Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, First Division
from the Circuit Court of Cook County. No. 11 CR 07904
Honorable Martin Agran, Judge Presiding.
JUSTICE MIKVA delivered the judgment of the court, with
opinion. Presiding Justice Pierce and Justice Simon concurred
in the judgment and opinion.
1 Armon Braden pled guilty to felony murder. His conviction
was predicated on an armed robbery in which the victim died
from injuries inflicted by one of Mr. Braden's
codefendants. After imposing a negotiated 22-year sentence on
Mr. Braden, the trial court gave insufficient admonishments
as to what Mr. Braden must do to perfect an appeal, including
which motion he would need to file to withdraw his plea and
vacate the judgment against him. Because of that, we remand
this case to the trial court for proper admonishments and,
following the admonishments, to allow Mr. Braden the
opportunity to file the proper postplea motions if he so
chooses. We also modify the fines and fees order in Mr.
2 I. BACKGROUND
3 On May 13, 2011, Mr. Braden and three codefendants were
charged with multiple counts of first degree murder, home
invasion, armed robbery, and aggravated kidnapping. The
indictment alleged that, on or about April 12, 2011, the
codefendants met at the home of the victim George Nellessen,
father of codefendant Matthew Nellessen, where they bound
George Nellessen to a chair, gagged him, robbed him of his
wallet, and forced him to sign a check payable to his son.
Mr. Braden brought a BB gun to the house that he used to
threaten George Nellessen into compliance. After robbing the
victim, codefendant Matthew Nellessen retrieved a baseball
bat, struck his father in the head multiple times, and then
stabbed him to death.
4 On November 21, 2014, Mr. Braden agreed to plead guilty to
one count of first degree murder-specifically felony murder
predicated on an armed robbery-in exchange for a nolle
prosequi of the remaining counts and the State's
recommendation of a 22-year prison sentence. The trial court
explained to Mr. Braden the charges and his right to plead
not guilty, confirming that Mr. Braden understood his rights
and was voluntarily relinquishing them with his plea. The
trial court explained Mr. Braden's right to a jury trial
and confirmed his desire to give up that right. The trial
court then warned Mr. Braden of the possible penalties for
first degree murder, including a 60-year sentence with a
possible extended-term penalty of 60 to 100 years, along with
a potential fine and several years of mandatory supervised
release. After confirming that no one had threatened or
promised anything to Mr. Braden, the court asked him if he
was pleading guilty of his own free will, and Mr. Braden
indicated that he was. The State provided the factual basis
for the plea agreement, including Mr. Braden's role in
the events leading to George Nellessen's kidnapping,
robbery, and death. After hearing the factual basis, the
trial court found that Mr. Braden's plea was freely and
voluntarily made and ordered a presentence investigation.
Mr. Braden was sentenced on January 30, 2015. After reviewing
the presentence investigation report, the trial court
assessed the relevant aggravating and mitigating factors and
sentenced Mr. Braden to the agreed-upon 22 years of
imprisonment, with 3 years of mandatory supervised release
and day-for-day credit for the time Mr. Braden had already
6 The trial court then admonished Mr. Braden as follows:
"If you seek to challenge the sentence or any aspect of
the sentencing hearing prior to taking an appeal, you must
file in the trial court within 30 days of today's date a
written motion asking the court to reconsider the sentence
imposed or reconsider any challenges to the sentence hearing.
You must set forth all of the reasons that you're
challenging [the] sentencing hearing.
If the motion to reconsider your sentence is granted, a new
sentence hearing will be conducted. Anything you fail to put
in your written motion will be waived for all time.
In order to preserve your right to appeal your sentence or
the sentencing hearing, you must file a notice of appeal with
the Clerk of the Circuit Court within 30 days of the entry of
the order disposing of your motion to reconsider.
You also have a right to a transcript of the proceedings of
this case. If you cannot afford to pay because you are
indigent, a copy of the transcript of the proceedings, as
well as the services of an attorney will be provided to you
free of charge.
Do you understand your appeal rights, sir?"
Mr. Braden indicated that he understood the trial court's
admonishments, and his counsel confirmed with the trial court
that Mr. Braden had served 1386 days in custody since his
arrest, for which he would receive credit.
7 The trial court also signed an order assessing fines, fees,
and costs, including a $5 electronic citation fee and a $250
DNA ID system fee, a $5 state police operations fee, a $25
court services (sheriff) fee, a $15 automation fee, a $15
document storage fee, a $2 public defender records automation
fee, and a $2 state's attorney records automation fee.
8 On February 25, 2015, Mr. Braden filed a "Motion to
Vacate Plea of Guilty, " with an accompanying
certificate. In the motion, he stated that he pled guilty to
murder, that he was sentenced to be incarcerated for 22
years, that his plea ought to be vacated because "the
defendant's plea was involuntary because he was coerced,
" and that he was indigent and desired the trial court
to appoint counsel to represent him in the presentation of
his motion. The motion includes the signature of the
assistant public defender who had represented Mr. Braden
throughout the proceedings in the trial court, Caroline
Glennon, with the notation "for A" next to her
signature. Below the signature is an unsigned affidavit of
Mr. Braden. The motion has the date stamp of the clerk of the
9 The next page of the record is labeled "Rule 604(d)
Certificate of Defense Counsel." It is unsigned and also
has the February 25, 2015, date stamp of the clerk of the
court. The certificate states as follows:
" 1. That I was the attorney of record for the
2. That I have consulted with Armon Braden, in person, by
phone or via mail to ascertain his contentions of error in
the entry of the guilty plea or in the sentence.
3. That pursuant to those consultations, I, in good faith
prepared the attached motion to vacate the guilty plea after
having examined the court file.
4. That a transcript of plea proceedings has been examined.
5. I have made any amendments to the motion necessary for
adequate presentation of any defects in ...