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People v. Johnson

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Third District

February 27, 2018

BLAIR A. JOHNSON, Defendant-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Circuit Court of the 10th Judicial Circuit, Peoria County, Illinois, Circuit No. 13-CF-1075 Honorable Kevin W. Lyons, Judge, Presiding.

          JUSTICE O'BRIEN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Presiding Justice Carter and Justice Holdridge concurred in the judgment and opinion.


          O'BRIEN, JUSTICE

         ¶ 1 Defendant, Blair A. Johnson, appeals the trial court's denial of his motion to withdraw his guilty plea following his conviction for home invasion. Specifically, defendant argues that his plea was not knowing, voluntary, and intelligent because plea counsel allegedly failed to advise him that agreeing to a sentencing cap would bar him from appealing his sentence. We affirm.

         ¶ 2 FACTS

         ¶ 3 Defendant was charged with home invasion (720 ILCS 5/19-6(a)(3) (West 2012)) in that he knowingly entered the residence of Ronald and Mari Halliday with reason to know that one or more persons were present while armed with a handgun and threatened the imminent use of force upon Ronald. Defendant was also charged with two counts of armed robbery (id. § 18-2(a)(2)) (one for each victim), two counts of aggravated unlawful restraint (id. § 10-3.1(a)) (one for each victim), and residential burglary (id. § 19-3(a)).

         ¶ 4 Defendant pled guilty to home invasion in exchange for the State's agreement to a sentencing cap of 40 years' imprisonment and the dismissal of the remaining charges. The court stated: "And People are agreeing to a cap of 40. It would normally be 45, is that correct?" The prosecutor replied: "That is correct." The court admonished defendant regarding his rights.

         ¶ 5 The court asked defendant if he was satisfied with his attorney's representation. Defendant replied, "Not really, but I'll have to deal with it." The court asked defendant what he meant, and defendant said, "I just don't feel like I was represented right." The court took a 20-minute break for defendant to discuss the matter with his attorney. After the recess, plea counsel stated that defendant did not want him to withdraw. Defendant said that was correct. Plea counsel said that defendant was not upset with his representation. Rather, defendant was upset with the State's plea offer and believed plea counsel should have negotiated him a better deal. Plea counsel explained that the State had only offered the 40-year sentencing cap and would not budge. The court asked defendant again if he was satisfied with his attorney's representation, and defendant said yes. Defendant stated he wished to proceed with the partially negotiated plea.

         ¶ 6 The court read the home invasion charge from the indictment and asked defendant if he understood the charge he was pleading guilty to. Defendant said yes. The following exchange occurred:

"THE COURT: Now, this is a special Class X felony in that it is a class- we call Class X plus 15. That means the minimum mandatory prison sentence is 21 years. And normally a Class X plus 15 would be 21 to 45 but because of your partially negotiated plea agreement calls for a cap of 40 years in the Department of Corrections, your sentence will be an exact term between 21 and 40 years, and when you are released it will be followed immediately by mandatory supervised release of three years. Do you understand that, sir?

         The court continued admonishing defendant as to the trial rights he was relinquishing by pleading guilty.

         ¶ 7 The State read the factual basis for the plea. The State stated that Ronald and Mari Halliday told a police officer that they were sleeping in their home on the night of the incident. After 2 a.m., the Hallidays were awoken by two unknown black males wearing ski masks. Both men were armed with handguns and held flashlights. The two men told the Hallidays to roll over or they would be killed. The men tied up Ronald's hands and feet. Approximately one hour later, the men tied up Mari. Ronald and Mari could hear other people downstairs. The incident lasted over two hours. At least one of the men stayed inside the bedroom with the Hallidays the entire time. The men laughed about the Hallidays living in a gated community. They held the barrels of their handguns to the Hallidays' heads. The men told the Hallidays that if they reported the incident to the police, they would come back and kill them. The Hallidays heard at least four other individuals in their home throughout the incident. After the men left, the Hallidays fled to a neighbor's house and called the police. The Hallidays determined that the men had taken several items of property from their residence, including jewelry and televisions.

         ¶ 8 The State said that Perry Rosetto told the police that he and several other individuals, including defendant, were involved in the Halliday home invasion. Rosetto reported that he and defendant were involved in tying up the Hallidays. The State said that it would call Ahmed Malik as a witness. Malik had purchased items from ...

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