Brian Pinkas is on trial for first-degree murder in Illinois, just as he asked to be. He’s already pleaded guilty to that crime, but he tried for years to unsuccessfully withdraw his plea, using such traditional arguments as the ineffectiveness of his lawyer. When those didn’t work, he changed course:
When none of that worked, he resorted to a surprising claim — that he was not given a stiff enough prison sentence.His original 20-year sentence, the statutory minimum for his offense of conviction, by law should have been enhanced by an extra 25 years because a firearm was involved, but it was not. So he, in essence, argued on appeal that the court erred by not punishing him enough. Begging for punishment can be an effective plea at sentencing:
On that point, Illinois’ 5th District Appellate Court agreed.
In the wording of their 2011 order, the appeals judges seemed to acknowledge his peril in bringing it up. They said they were remanding the case to the trial court ‘so that he can withdraw his guilty plea and have his conviction and sentence vacated, if he so desires.’ The order warns that he would not only be liable to prosecution all over again but could see his 20-year term become 45.
So, credit to Pinkas (and his attorney, if he had one) for spinning this odd appellate theory into gold. Whether it ultimately pans out (read more of the ongoing retrial here) is yet to be seen. One thing’s certain – if he’s convicted, you can bet Pinkas will get every year coming to him.