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Aledo man must wait for hearing on bid for new sentencing


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Originally Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2012, 8:38 pm
Last Updated: Nov. 13, 2012, 9:02 pm
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By Stephen Elliott, selliott@qconline.com

A Mercer County judge will wait for an Illinois Prisoner Review Board decision before proceeding with an Aledo man's request for post-conviction relief.

Judge Frank Fuhr on Tuesday granted a motion for continuance filed by Mercer County State's Attorney Greg McHugh, delaying a petition by Ryan Bell, 24, of Aledo, seeking to vacate a 20-year prison sentence he received for his role in a 2006 gang rape of a 15-year-old girl.

The post-conviction relief hearing was continued to Feb. 8.

Mr. Bell pleaded guilty to criminal sexual assault in October 2006 and was sentenced in February 2007 for his role in the assault that involved several juveniles who were encouraged to participate, according to authorities.

The charges could have resulted in a prison term of 75 to 150 years for Mr. Bell. Instead, hepleaded guilty to criminal sexual assault, a felony, and six other charges stemming from the same incident were dropped.

By pleading guilty to criminal sexual assault, he became eligible for a sentence of up to 30 years because he had a prior burglary conviction.His sentence included two years of mandatory supervised release.

In 2008, the Illinois Supreme Court rejected Mr. Bell's efforts to overturn his sentence.Mr. Bell was denied post conviction relief in 2009 when his attorneys argued Mr. Bell did not receive an adequate defense.

In 2011, the Third District Appellate Court in Ottawa denied Mr. Bell's appeal to withdraw his guilty plea.

On Tuesday, Mr. Bell's attorney, Jerry Schick, of Rock Island, argued Mr. Bell was improperly sentenced in 2007, notingthe law states Mr. Bell must serve at least three years of mandatory supervised release.Because Mr. Bell was misinformed, Mr. Schick said he should be allowed to withdraw his plea and proceed to a new trial.

He also objected to Mr. McHugh's request for continuing the case, filed on Nov. 5.Mr. Schick wants Mr. Bell remanded to the Mercer County Jail on a reasonable bond.

"We've been trying to move this case along for months and months," Mr. Schick told Judge Fuhr.

Mr. McHugh, in his motion filed to continue the hearing, said he wants a decision from the prisoner review board on a definitive mandatory supervised release term for Mr. Bell.

"This motion is not for delay, but to help prevent a travesty of justice to the young sexual assault victim where the law should not allow a new trial after six years when no plea bargain was breached," Mr. McHugh wrote in his motion.











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