People v. Medrano

Decision Date13 June 2014
Docket NumberNo. 1–10–2440.,1–10–2440.
Citation381 Ill.Dec. 161,2014 IL App (1st) 102440,10 N.E.3d 246
PartiesThe PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Plaintiff–Appellee, v. Jose MEDRANO, Defendant–Appellant.
CourtUnited States Appellate Court of Illinois

OPINION TEXT STARTS HERE

Michael J. Pelletier and Michael G. Soukop, both of State Appellate Defender's Office, of Chicago, for appellant.

Anita M. Alvarez, State's Attorney, of Chicago (Annette N. Collins and Susan R. Schierl Sullivan, Assistant State's Attorneys, of counsel), for the People.

OPINION

Presiding Justice HYMAN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.

¶ 1 Defendant Jose Medrano contends for the first time on appeal that his sentences are void and he must be allowed to withdraw his guilty plea because the trial court did not advise him that his sentences for aggravated criminal sexual assault must be served consecutively rather than concurrently. The problem with cases like this, where the defendant argues for the first time on appeal that his sentence and plea are void, involves the record from the trial and the postconviction proceedings on the sentencing issue. Often the record is incomplete or nonexistent, which hinders this court's efforts in determining whether the trial court erred in sentencing the defendant. That is the situation we face regarding the trial judge's intent when he sentenced Medrano to 17 years' imprisonment. Accordingly, we reverse the dismissal of Medrano's petition to permit a new second-stage postconviction hearing to determine the basis of the trial court's sentence.

¶ 2 BACKGROUND

¶ 3 Jose Medrano was charged in indictment number 92 CR 8203 with 16 felony counts, including 8 counts of aggravated criminal sexual assault, 2 counts of criminal sexual assault, 1 count of criminal sexual abuse, 3 counts of aggravated kidnapping, and 2 counts of kidnapping. These charges stem from an incident on the morning of March 14, 1992, when he allegedly lured his roommate's fiancée to his apartment under false pretenses and sexually assaulted her numerous times. On May 15, 1992, while out on bond, Medrano attacked another woman and was charged in case number 92 CR 13165 with attempted first degree murder, armed robbery, aggravated criminal sexual abuse, aggravated kidnapping, aggravated criminal sexual assault, and aggravated battery. In case number 92 CR 13165, Medrano was convicted by a jury and on May 19, 1994, was sentenced to an aggregate prison term of 90 years. The appellate court affirmed Medrano's conviction but remanded several times to address sentencing errors. Ultimately, however, a reconfigured 90–year prison term was upheld on appeal (People v. Medrano, No. 1–00–0857, 331 Ill.App.3d 1131, 296 Ill.Dec. 433, 835 N.E.2d 467 (2002) (unpublished order under Supreme Court Rule 23)). Medrano currently serves that sentence.

¶ 4 On May 31, 1994, in case number 92 CR 8203, the trial judge granted defense counsel's request for a Supreme Court Rule 402 plea conference (Ill. S.Ct. R. 402 (eff. Feb. 1, 1981)). During the conference, the State requested the maximum sentence of 30 years, while defense counsel argued for the minimum sentence of 6 years. Afterward, the trial judge told Medrano:

“I'm sure your fine lawyer, Mr. Slonim, relayed the results of the 402 conference to you. I indicated to the lawyers that on a plea of guilty, after reviewing everything, going over reports, and listening to the arguments of counsel, the State was recommending 30 years which is the maximum sentence, 30 years consecutive to the 90 year sentence you are already serving. Your lawyer is asking, on the other hand, for six years which is the minimum the court could impose. After reviewing everything I initially said I would consider a sentence 20 years consecutive. Upon further arguments from your lawyer I said I would consider a period of seventeen years incarceration with credit for the time you have already served being given to you.”

¶ 5 Medrano told the judge he wanted to plead guilty to all 16 counts. The court advised Medrano of the applicable sentencing range, stating that because he would be pleading guilty to the Class X offense of aggravated criminal sexual assault, “I can possibly sentence you to, as an aggregate on all of these charges, a minimum of six years,” and “up to 30 years.” The judge also stated that because Medrano committed the offenses in the attempted murder case while he was out on bond for the offenses in this case, or “because in consideration of all the other factors involved and arguments of the lawyers,” it was possible for the court to sentence him to consecutive terms. The judge informed Medrano the sentence he would impose would be consecutive to the sentence he already was serving for the attempted murder case, but it appears he did not admonish Medrano that each conviction for the charged offenses of aggravated criminal sexual assault and criminal sexual assault would trigger mandatory consecutive terms.

¶ 6 A detailed statement of facts was entered into the record as part of Medrano's plea. The parties stipulated that on March 14, 1992, Medrano lived in an apartment with the victim's fiancé. While the fiancé was out of town, Medrano called the victim and told her that her fiancé's cat was sick and needed to be taken the veterinarian immediately. Medrano told the victim to come to the apartment to get the cat because he needed to leave for work. When the victim arrived at the apartment, Medrano directed her to the bathroom and grabbed her from behind, causing an injury to her left eye. The victim saw a butcher knife in the bathroom. Medrano then took the victim to his bedroom, where he forced her to remove her clothes and perform oral sex on him. The victim saw what she believed was a handgun on Medrano's bed, which later turned out to be a BB gun. Medrano took the victim into the living room, where he again forced her to perform oral sex on him. He forced the victim to the living room floor where he penetrated her vaginally from behind and again forced her to perform oral sex on him. The parties also stipulated that during the course of the incident, Medrano touched the victim's breasts for the purpose of sexual gratification.

¶ 7 When the victim cried out for help, Medrano forced her back into the bathroom. He told her he could not do this anymore and had not realized what he was doing because he was on drugs. The victim promised Medrano she would not call the police, and about an hour later, he allowed her to leave, stating he had already screwed up and was going to go to jail. Medrano packed his belongings and left the apartment. A short time later, police took Medrano into custody and he made oral and written confessions to the police about the incident. Medrano stipulated that at the time of the incident he had prior convictions for rape and deviate sexual assault.

¶ 8 The trial judge accepted Medrano's guilty plea on all 16 counts and said he would consider the presentence investigation report previously prepared in case number 92 CR 13165. The prosecutor stated he would stand on the argument made during the Rule 402 conference, emphasizing the victim impact statement, which the court had read. In mitigation, defense counsel pointed to Medrano's intoxication during the offense and his expressions of remorse over the incident. The court said, “As I indicated, the Court did participate in the 402 conference. I said I would consider a sentence of seventeen years consecutive to the 90–year sentence imposed by Judge Hoffenberg.” After considering arguments and all the factors in aggravation and mitigation, the court imposed a term of 17 years' imprisonment on each count, concurrent to one another, but consecutive to the 90–year term in the defendant's attempted murder case. The court further stated that “some of the lesser included offenses will merge by operation of law,” but did not explain which ones. The order of commitment imposed a 17–year term on each of the 16 counts.

¶ 9 Medrano pursued postconviction relief in case number 92 CR 13165, filing a pro se petition on April 16, 1997, alleging a denial of due process because he was unfit to stand trial due to injuries he had sustained in a jail fight. The circuit court summarily dismissed his petition and Medrano appealed arguing the dismissal was void because his petition was ruled on beyond the 90–day statutory time limit under section 122–2.1(a) of the Post–Conviction Hearing Act (the Act) (725 ILCS 5/122–2.1(a) (West 1996)). The appellate court consolidated that appeal with Medrano's direct appeal of his sentences, reversed the dismissal of the pro se petition, and ordered the case remanded to the trial court for further postconviction proceedings. People v. Medrano, Nos. 1–97–3718, 1–97–4612, 299 Ill.App.3d 1122, 251 Ill.Dec. 266, 740 N.E.2d 96 (1998) (unpublished order under Supreme Court Rule 23).

¶ 10 In December 2001, Medrano filed a supplemental petition for postconviction relief in case number 92 CR 13165, again arguing he was denied due process because the trial court had failed to conduct a fitness hearing. After hearing arguments, the circuit court dismissed Medrano's petition. Medrano appealed, relying on an affidavit from Dr. James Corcoran who, after reviewing Medrano's medical records and examining him, concluded that Medrano's symptoms were indicative of a traumatic brain injury that rendered him unable to assist in his defense. The appellate court, however, affirmed the dismissal on the grounds that Medrano's argument could have been raised on direct appeal but was not. People v. Medrano, No. 1–05–1634, 381 Ill.App.3d 1138, 359 Ill.Dec. 283, 966 N.E.2d 604 (2008) (unpublished order under Supreme Court Rule 23).

¶ 11 Medrano did not file a motion to withdraw his plea within 30 days in case number 92 CR 8203 (see Ill. S.Ct. R. 604(d) (eff. Aug. 1, 1992)) or file a direct appeal, but on July 26, 2005, more than 11 years...

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