The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Local News

December 11, 2008

Gray claims right to speedy trial denied

DANVILLE — Charges could be dropped against a man convicted for his part in a brutal stabbing of a Westville man in 2005.

Judge Claudia Anderson gave prosecutors until Monday to research information against a motion to release Ammon Gray and dismiss the charges against him.

The Fourth District Appellate Court reversed Gray’s conviction in January, sending the case back to Vermilion County Circuit Court to be retried. An attempt to appeal that reversal was denied by the Illinois Supreme Court, allowing a mandate of the appellate court’s decision to be filed in Vermilion County on July 10.

That date could mark the beginning of the end to the case against Gray.

Under Illinois statutes, the defendant has the right to a speedy trial held within 120 days of the mandate’s filing. As of Thursday, Gray has been incarcerated in the Stateville Correctional Center for 154 days.

Standing before the court on Thursday, Assistant State’s Attorney Sandy Lawlyes explained the office was not aware of the issue. Assistant State’s Attorney Larry Mills, who no longer worked for the office as of Dec. 5, handled the case exclusively.

Under the timeline of days, Mills would have still been on staff when the 120-day mark for Gray’s speedy trial came and went. Former State’s Attorney Frank Young was running the office at that point.

Newly elected State’s Attorney Randy Brinegar said after the hearing his office would be burning the midnight oil to research the case.

“We’ll do what we can do,” he said outside the courtroom. “But it happened under another administration.”

Gray, 34, was sentenced in April 2006 to 60 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections on a charge of first-degree murder. The term is concurrent with two 30-year sentences for armed robbery and home invasion.

He and co-defendant Marlon Williams were sentenced in 2006 in connection with the May 22, 2005, stabbing death of Kenneth Blondeel at his home. Blondeel was stabbed almost 80 times in the attack. Blondeel’s girlfriend testified Williams continually stabbed Blondeel.

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