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People v. Murray

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Third District

October 31, 2017

KENWAUN A. MURRAY, Defendant-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Circuit Court of the 9th Judicial Circuit, Knox County, Illinois, Appeal No. 3-15-0586 Circuit No. 14-CF-226 Honorable Scott Shipplett, Judge, Presiding.

          CARTER JUSTICE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justice Schmidt concurred in the judgment and opinion. Justice Wright dissented, with opinion.



         ¶ 1 Defendant, Kenwaun A. Murray, pled guilty to residential burglary and two counts of aggravated battery. Defendant subsequently moved to withdraw his guilty plea, arguing that counsel had incorrectly advised him regarding the legal standards for residential burglary. After inquiring into defendant's claim of ineffectiveness, the circuit court found no possible neglect of the case and declined to appoint new counsel. The court denied the motion to withdraw the plea. On appeal, defendant argues that new counsel should have been appointed to represent him in a full hearing on his ineffectiveness claim. He also argues that the matter should be remanded for new postplea proceedings because defense counsel did not strictly comply with the certification requirements of Illinois Supreme Court Rule 604(d) (eff. Mar. 8, 2016). We reverse the circuit court's decision to not appoint new counsel, vacate the circuit court's denial of defendant's motion to withdraw his plea, and remand for proceedings consistent with this order.

         ¶ 2 FACTS

         ¶ 3 In a series of informations, the State charged defendant with numerous counts of various felony charges, including armed robbery, aggravated battery, home invasion, residential burglary, and burglary. Defendant would eventually plead guilty to one count of residential burglary (720 ILCS 5/19-3(a) (West 2014)) and two counts of aggravated battery (720 ILCS 5/12-3.05(a)(1) (West 2014)).

         ¶ 4 At defendant's guilty plea hearing, held on February 13, 2015, the State provided a lengthy recitation of the factual basis for the plea. The State summarized that Galesburg police were called to the Broadview Inn in the early morning hours of June 22, 2014, on reports that two men were bleeding from the head. The victims, Charles Roach and Merlin Evans, were residing at the hotel that night. The hotel manager told the officers that two women had entered a room on the first floor of the hotel. One of the women returned to the lobby to request a key to room 111. The manager denied her request, and she returned to the room. Later, a third woman, described as a short Hispanic female with dark hair, entered the lobby and proceeded to the same first floor room.

         ¶ 5 The manager told the officers that shortly after the third woman approached the room, a tall black male entered the lobby and went to the vicinity of room 111. The manager then saw the first two women leave that room. After hearing a loud noise from the room, the manager went to investigate. He knocked on the door, after which the Hispanic woman and the tall black male exited the room and left the hotel.

         ¶ 6 Officer Gregory Huwe reviewed the hotel's surveillance footage, which corroborated the manager's story. In the video recording, the tall black male could be seen carrying a metallic object in his right hand before entering room 111. Huwe recognized the subject as defendant, based on previous contacts with him. Huwe also recognized the Hispanic woman as Kayla Snider. The videotape showed defendant and Kayla leaving room 111 shortly after the manager knocked on the door. Defendant was no longer carrying the metallic object. Later, the video showed a white male stagger out of the room holding his head. In room 111, the officers retrieved a metal car jack, and observed multiple trails of blood. The officers learned at the hospital that the victims, Roach and Evans, had both suffered skull fractures.

         ¶ 7 Two days later, defendant placed a telephone call to Huwe, after learning there was a warrant for his arrest. Defendant told Huwe "that he would take the charge for beating someone up but claimed at that time he did not commit a robbery."

         ¶ 8 Kayla, defendant's paramour, told detectives that defendant had struck Roach and Evans in the head with the car jack. In giving detectives this information, Kayla retracted prior written statements she had made in the case. Evans recalled seeing a black man standing over him before he became unconscious. He was "pretty positive" that it was that black male that had struck him.

         ¶ 9 Defense counsel noted that he was uncertain as to what Kayla "would ultimately testify to, " but otherwise agreed with the State's factual basis. The court accepted the factual basis and found defendant's plea was knowing and voluntary.

         ¶ 10 On February 25, 2015-12 days after pleading guilty-defendant filed a motion to withdraw the plea. In the motion, which was filed through counsel, defendant alleged that the State's evidence would be insufficient to convict him of residential burglary. On May 4, 2015, defense counsel filed a Rule 604(d) certificate, in which he certified that he consulted with defendant regarding contentions of error in the plea proceedings and had reviewed the court file and the report of proceedings of the plea hearing.

         ¶ 11 At a hearing on May 13, 2015, the circuit court elected to proceed with sentencing before addressing the motion to withdraw the guilty plea. The court sentenced defendant to a term of 15 years' imprisonment for residential burglary, plus two concurrent terms of 5 years' imprisonment for the aggravated battery convictions. After admonishing defendant of his appeal rights, the court stated that a hearing on the motion to withdraw would be held ...

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