No. 2--05--0699 Filed: 3-30-07
APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS
THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE ) Appeal from the Circuit Court
OF ILLINOIS, ) of Lake County.
v. ) No. 03--CF--2253
JOSE L. CRUZ, ) Honorable
) Christopher C. Starck,
Defendant-Appellant. ) Judge, Presiding.
PRESIDING JUSTICE GROMETER delivered the opinion of the court:
Defendant, Jose L. Cruz, entered a guilty plea in the circuit court of Lake County to a single
count of first degree murder (720 ILCS 5/9--1(a)(1) (West 2002)) in connection with the stabbing
death of Elda Portela. Portela was defendant's brother's widow. In exchange for defendant's plea,
the State agreed that his sentence would not exceed 55 years' imprisonment. The trial court
sentenced defendant to a 47-year prison term, and defendant filed a timely motion to withdraw his
guilty plea and vacate the judgment. The trial court denied the motion, and this appeal followed.
Defendant is a citizen of Honduras and he was living in the United States illegally at the time
of the offense. Defendant was assisted by an interpreter throughout the proceedings, including the
hearing at which he entered his guilty plea. According to the presentence investigation report (PSI)
prepared after defendant entered his plea, defendant's brother had been murdered in Central America,