A suburban Chicago man who pleaded guilty to and was convicted of murder in a 2001 slaying has been granted a retrial after he argued that his previous 30-year prison sentence was not harsh enough. The man, however, hopes the move will lead to him spending less time in prison.
Benny Deanda Jr., 26, of Elgin, pleaded guilty in 2001 to the murder of 16-year-old Mario Jiminez, the Chicago Tribune reports. Deanda allegedly shot Jiminez after the two entered into a verbal altercation. Deanda was 17 at the time of the original trial. Deanda received the 30 year sentence as part of a plea deal, according to a court filing.
"The supreme court recognized that the State has the authority to enter plea agreements on charges of its choosing; however, a trial court does not have the authority to accept a negotiated guilty plea below the mandatory minimum sentence of 35 years'
imprisonment for first degree murder with the use of a firearm," the filing reads.
Since the sentence was less than the minimum required by law, Deanda's lawyers were able to argue the need for a new trial. Rather than pursue a longer sentence at the trial, however, Levi Harris, an assistant public defender, told the Tribune his client wants to pursue a self-defense argument.
If convicted a second time of the same crime, Deanda's original sentence could be doubled to 60 years -- or even life in prison, according to WBBM.
Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional information from the court filing.