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Curl appealing decision in Keller murder case

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013 10:55 a.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013 10:52 p.m. CDT
William Curl is appealing a judge's ruling that he can not withdraw a guilty plea in the murder of Antinette "Toni" Keller.

SYCAMORE – William "Billy" Curl is appealing a judge's decision refusing to give him more time to try to renege on his plea deal in Toni Keller's death.

DeKalb County Presiding Judge Robbin Stuckert ruled Sept. 16 that she didn’t have the authority to give Curl, 37, of DeKalb, more time to ask to withdraw his plea agreement.

On April 3, Curl entered a special plea agreement in which he maintained his innocence but acknowledged prosecutors could prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he murdered Northern Illinois University student Antinette “Toni” Keller. He is serving a 37-year prison sentence in Menard Correctional Center.

Curl had 30 days to try to withdraw the plea agreement, but he did not file the paperwork until July 22, more than three months later. DeKalb County Assistant State’s Attorney Stephanie Klein argued that Stuckert didn’t have the authority to toss out the agreement or to extend the deadline once it had passed.

Defense attorney Daniel Transier argued that the 30-day deadline should be extended because it wasn’t Curl’s fault he missed it.

Curl was unable to contact his lawyer or to gather necessary materials because he was placed in an isolation room at Stateville Correctional Center five days after formalizing the plea agreement, Transier said in court documents. The 30-day deadline had passed by the time he was transferred to Menard Correctional Center and could consult a lawyer.

More recently, Transier filed a notice that Curl wanted to appeal Stuckert's decision with the Illinois Second District Appellate Court in Elgin. On Monday, DeKalb County Associate Judge John McAdams appointed an appellate public defender to help him with that appeal.

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