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Curl Cannot Withdraw Guilty Plea in Keller Murder: Judge

DeKalb County Circuit Judge Robbin Stuckert ruled Monday that Curl's failure to file a motion to withdraw within 30 days means his request is invalid.

William "Billy" Curl. Credit: Illinois Department of Corrections
William "Billy" Curl. Credit: Illinois Department of Corrections
A DeKalb County judge ruled Monday that William "Billy" Curl could not withdraw his plea of guilty in the murder of Plainfield resident Antinette "Toni" Keller.

Curl, 37, of DeKalb, had missed the deadline to change his plea, Judge Robbin Stuckert ruled, and thus serve the 37-year prison term he received for killing Keller in October 2010 when she was an 18-year-old freshman attending Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, a story in the DeKalb Daily Chronicle said.

In April, Curl entered an unusual plea in which he maintained his innocence but agreed that prosecutors had enough evidence for a jury or judge to find him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

His change of mind came too late to allow that plea to be withdrawn but he still has the ability to appeal the decision on the grounds that his Constitutional rights were violated, the Daily Chronicle story said. He had 30 days in which to withdraw it, but he didn't do so for three months.

Recently appointed defense attorney Daniel Transier had argued that it wasn't Curl's fault that the deadline was missed. Curl was placed in an isolation room at Stateville Correctional Center in Joliet after entering the plea, and 30 days had passed by the time he was transferred to Menard Correctional Center and had the ability to speak with an attorney, Transier argued, according to the story.

The Keller murder case was particularly disturbing because evidence indicated that Curl not only killed the young woman but sexually assaulted her and burned her body. He had twice been interviewed by police, and then fled to Louisiana, where he was arrested.

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