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Auroran convicted on murder charges dumps attorney

Preciliano Garcia

Preciliano Garcia

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Updated: January 3, 2013 6:14AM

ST. CHARLES - Facing the prospects of decades in prison for his role in the 2008 murder of an Aurora man, Preciliano Garcia delayed the inevitable by dumping his attorney just before sentencing.

Garcia, 31, last of Chicago, was convicted of murder, armed robbery and home invasion by Judge Timothy Sheldon after a bench trial earlier this year. Garcia and another man, Anthony Ortiz, forced their way into a home on North Chestnut Street in November 2008 with plans to rob the residents. Shots were fired during a struggle with several men inside the home, with 33-year-old Mario Vasquez suffering a fatal gunshot wound to the neck.

Garcia stepped before Sheldon Tuesday morning to say he was unhappy with attorney Chris Wheaton’s handling of the case.

“I don’t even know where to begin,” Garcia said, telling Sheldon he needed time to write down his issues with Wheaton. “All I want is a new attorney.”

Sheldon explained that Garcia’s request would trigger the need for a so-called Krankel hearing — where a defendant makes formal allegations of ineffective counsel against their attorney — and delay his sentencing. After much explanation about Krankel, Sheldon told Garcia it was important to have such a hearing soon, as Sheldon leaves the bench for retirement at the end of the week. Sheldon has presided over the case since 2009.

Garcia responded, “I don’t even know what (the Krankel hearing) is.”Sheldon appointed the Kane County Public Defender’s Office to represent Perez after allowing Wheaton to withdraw from the case. “He has no idea what he wants to do,” Sheldon said of Garcia. “He can’t answer my questions.”

Assistant State’s Attorney Dave Belshan also sounded frustrated by Garcia’s uncertainty and encouraged Sheldon to hold the Krankel hearing as soon as possible. “Obviously, he’s thought about it,” Belshan said of Garcia’s complaints. “We just need to hammer this out and get this done.”

Sheldon said the appellate court would take issue with him if he allowed Garcia to go to sentencing. Judge John Barsanti will take over Sheldon’s caseload, but might not be able to handle the Garcia matter. Barsanti was Kane County State’s Attorney in 2008 when charges were filed against Garcia.

The case is scheduled to return to court on Jan. 4.

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