Man serving 10-year prison term for shooting has claim of ineffective counsel denied

By Tabitha Fleming | May 5, 2017

The Fifth District Appellate Court has agreed with the postconviction trial court that Perkins had effective legal counsel and was therefore not entitled to a new trial.

MT. VERNON — A convicted man has twice alleged that his counsel was ineffective after the proceedings didn’t go his way, first at the initial trial and second after an evidentiary hearing for postconviction relief. Following a full review of the transcript of the evidentiary hearing, the Illinois Fifth District Appellate Court agreed with the postconviction trial court on April 19 that Perkins had effective legal counsel and was therefore not entitled to a new trial.

After pleading guilty in the shooting of another man, Larry D. Perkins has made numerous legal attempts to change the outcome of his original case. According to court records, Perkins was charged with aggravated battery with a firearm, aggravated unlawful use of a weapon and aggravated assault. The charges followed an incident on July 20, 2009, where the state said Perkins shot a Cahokia man with a handgun.

When officers responded at the scene, Perkins allegedly pointed the weapon at a sheriff’s deputy before fleeing on foot. Perkins was later arrested at his mother’s home in Florida before being extradited to Illinois.

Cathleen MacElroy served as the defendant’s court-appointed trial attorney and eventually negotiated a plea deal for Perkins. Perkins pleaded guilty to aggravated battery with a firearm and the state recommended that he be sentenced to a 10-year term in the state’s prison system.

Shortly after being sent to prison, Perkins filed a pro se petition for postconviction relief alleging that MacElroy had failed to act appropriately on his behalf. Specifically, Perkins accused his defense attorney of failing to contact his Florida family members whom he said could provide an alibi defense during his initial trial.

In February 2014, Perkins’ appointed postconviction counsel filed a petition on his behalf, amending his original pro se petition. In it, Perkins alleged that MacElroy had repeatedly told him that his alibi defense would be insufficient. Furthermore, according to Perkins, MacElroy had never actually interviewed or contacted his alibi witnesses before advising him to accept the guilty plea.

An evidentiary hearing was held in August 2014, wherein MacElroy testified that she had indeed interviewed at least one of the alibi witnesses provided by Perkins. Additionally, MacElroy testified that Perkins had filed a complaint with the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission. She furthermore stated on the record that Perkins’ allegations against her were “outrageous” and that she believed considering the circumstances she had been able to get Perkins an “excellent deal.”

Following the evidentiary hearing, the trial court denied the defendant’s amended motion for postconviction relief. Perkins then appealed the decision, this time alleging that postconviction counsel failed to provide reasonable assistance at the August 2014 hearing, leading to last month's affirmation of the second trial court's decision.

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