Man convicted of sex offense asking to withdraw plea

Saying that he was threatened into pleading guilty to a sex offense last month, a Brownstown man now wants to withdraw that plea.
Lloyd W. Merkley, 62, pleaded guilty at the end of October to a charge of predatory criminal sexual assault of a child.
Through a plea agreement, Merkley agreed to a 10-year prison sentence. A Class X felony, predatory criminal sexual assault is punishable by up to 30 years in prison.
Under Illinois law, Merkley would be required to serve at least 85 percent of the 10-year sentence.
Assistant State’s Attorney Matt Chancey said at that time that the victim in the case was 5 years old. Merkley was charged with the offense in June.
In a motion asking to withdraw his plea, Merkley said that a family member threatened to kill him and his wife if he did not accept a plea bargain.
Merkley also states in the motion that he relayed the threats to his attorney, “but counsel would not listen. Defense counsel said the deal had already been made.”
Merkley’s trial began with jury selection on Monday, Oct. 29. Twelve jurors and an alternate juror were selected, and they were excused until Tuesday, with the trial to continue with opening statements by Chancey and Merkley’s court-appointed attorney, Public Defender Ed Potter.
Also on Oct. 29, the trial judge, Fayette County Resident Circuit Judge S. Gene Schwarm ruled that testimony related to statements made by family members of the victim and a county sheriff’s deputy could be used at trial.
On Tuesday morning, Merkley signed a plea agreement.
Prior to the trial, Potter requested a fitness evaluation for his client, but Associate Judge Allan Lolie denied the request, stating that Merkley was “able to state what a trial was and said he understood the proceedings.”
Merkley is now being represented by a second court-appointed attorney, Jeff DeLong.

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