Man convicted of NIU student’s killing seeks plea withdrawal
SYCAMORE — A man seeking to withdraw his guilty plea in the 2010 death of a Northern Illinois University student testified Thursday he wasn’t “right in the head” when he talked to police after his arrest.
William Curl also claimed his public defenders ignored his requests to seek to suppress those interviews in the 2 1/2 years they represented him.
The Daily Chronicle reports video interviews with law enforcement show Carl changed his story multiple times, leading detectives to dismiss his claims he didn’t kill 18-year-old freshman Antinette Keller. Curl ultimately pleaded guilty and received a 37-year prison sentence.
Court-appointed lawyer Dan Transier asked Curl what made him feel he and his attorneys weren’t prepared to proceed to trial in April 2013.
“One, he wasn’t confident,” Curl, 41, said, referring to Public Defender Tom McCulloch. “He did not want to be in front of the media, and he really wouldn’t tell me anything about my case.”
Curl also testified that he’s been mentally ill since he was a child, and that he’s taken a variety of medications over the years for bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.
Curl filed a petition in 2015 asking for post-conviction relief. In May he was granted a hearing that started on Wednesday. Curl maintained his innocence in the plea agreement but acknowledged prosecutors could prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he killed Keller.
Keller, of Plainfield, was last seen Oct. 14, 2010, when friends said the art student was headed to a nearby park and nature preserve. Two days later, burned remains were found in the park. A week later, forensic experts confirmed the remains were human.
Carl was arrested by U.S. Marshals at a motel in Covington, Louisiana. Curl was known to be among the people who frequented the 150-acre park and was questioned along with others early in the investigation. At the time, authorities said he became the prime suspect when he failed to show up for further questioning.