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Convicted murderer’s sentencing hits another bump in Kane Circuit Court

Preciliano Garcia

Preciliano Garcia

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Updated: May 6, 2013 6:25AM

ST. CHARLES — Four months after convicted murderer Preciliano Garcia had his sentencing delayed due to his complaints about his attorney, Garcia got the chance in court to explain those problems.

However, Garcia’s more recent concerns about the judge handling the case caused an abrupt halt to a somewhat disjointed argument Wednesday about how attorney Chris Wheaton failed to effectively defend Garcia.

Garcia, last of Chicago, was convicted of murder, armed robbery and home invasion by Kane County Judge Timothy Sheldon after a 2012 bench trial.

Garcia and another man, Anthony Ortiz, forced their way into a home on North Chestnut Street in Aurora in November 2008 with plans to rob the residents. Shots were fired during a struggle with several men inside the home, and 33-year-old Mario Vasquez suffered a fatal gunshot wound to the neck.

Garcia was set to be sentenced in November when he first told Sheldon he believed Wheaton did not properly handle the case.

Sheldon retired the following week, which briefly shifted the case to Judge John Barsanti, who then recused himself from the case because he was Kane County state’s attorney when charges were filed against Garcia.

That put the case in the hands of Judge James Hallock in December.

On March 11, Garcia filed a motion seeking a substitution of judge, claiming Hallock would be prejudiced against him.

The motion, in part, questions Hallock’s impartiality because he was the judge who signed Garcia’s arrest warrant in 2008. No hearing was ever conducted on that request.

Hallock acknowledged he did sign the complaint for preliminary hearing in Garcia’s case, and many others, as part of a three-year court assignment.

Hallock also mentioned that Garcia’s substitution request occurred beyond the 10-day period after he was assigned the case.

Next hearing

Chief Judge Judith Brawka will now decide which judge will take over Garcia’s case. No new court date was immediately scheduled.

The substitution issue came up well into Garcia’s attempt to explain his “many issues” with Wheaton. Garcia generally said Wheaton failed to talk with an alibi witness or to investigate information about a “suspect that got away.” Garcia frequently cited Aurora police reports and case law before suggesting prosecutors failed to prove him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

It was “never proven he (Ortiz) or I fired the gun that killed Mario Vasquez,” Garcia said.

“You’re saying the state failed to meet its burden?” Hallock responded. “That has nothing to do with this (the ineffective counsel motion).”

Wheaton attended the hearing as an expected witness, but was left sitting at a table as a spectator without being called.

“As a witness, Mr. Wheaton, I apologize for the loss of time in your day, your week and your life,” Hallock said.

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