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DeKalb man's plea agreement in limbo

Published: Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013 2:29 p.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013 10:59 p.m. CDT
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Martin Quintana

DeKALB – An attorney for a DeKalb man who admitted to raping his one-time girlfriend and attempting to strangle her with a shoelace is questioning whether he was mentally fit to plead guilty.

Martin Quintana, 22, of the 800 block of South Eighth St., pleaded guilty Oct. 18 to criminal sexual assault and aggravated domestic battery in exchange for prosecutors dropping more-serious charges of attempted murder and aggravated criminal sexual assault.

Since then, Quintana cut his arms in Kendall County Jail, was put on suicide watch and made statements that defense attorney Clay Campbell and Quintana's mother found bizarre, court records show. He was scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 20, but Presiding Judge Robbin Stuckert decided Thursday to allow authorities to pursue a mental evaluation first.

Campbell said he had a duty to raise concerns about mental illness when he notices them. Defendants typically have 30 days to ask a judge to allow them to renege on their guilty pleas.

"Although I can deal with someone and think they're OK, you may be completely wrong," Campbell said. "We're always concerned [with whether someone is] in the right mental state to waive the fundamental rights we have."

Assistant State's Attorney Jessica Finley emphasized that Quintana responded to questions about knowingly making the plea agreement when it was entered in court. She also said that being on suicide watch does not make someone mentally incompetent to enter a plea agreement.

If Quintana's guilty plea were overturned, prosecutors could pursue all the original charges against him and he could face between six and 30 years in prison if convicted of attempted murder or aggravated criminal sexual abuse. If his guilty plea isn't vacated, he could be sentenced to up to 15 years in prison.

He is next due in court Dec. 12.

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