MORRISON – A Rock Falls man wants to withdraw his plea of guilty to aggravated DUI in the death of a pedestrian.
Chad E. Morse, 42, was sentenced on Sept. 11 to 14 years in prison, the maximum sentence. He had pleaded guilty in July to aggravated DUI for the November 2011 death of 33-year-old Brad E. Nitsch, also of Rock Falls.
Two filings made last week by Morse’s new attorney, Maureen Williams of Peoria, seek to change that.
In a motion to reconsider the sentence, Williams contends the “sentence imposed was excessive and did not reasonably consider all mitigating circumstances” and that “the defendant was denied effective assistance of counsel.”
Additionally, Williams filed a motion to withdraw the plea of guilty and vacate the judgment, asserting that the defendant “did not enter the guilty plea voluntarily and knowingly” and that he “was denied effective assistance of counsel.”
Asked whether she had evidence to support the claims in the motion, Williams said it was just guesswork until she thoroughly reviews the case.
“I have to put those in there to cover my bases until I get the transcripts,” she said. “You have to kind of just guess.
“In order to withdraw the guilty plea, you have to claim that it was not knowingly made or voluntarily made.”
Whiteside County State’s Attorney Trish Joyce said her office was considering a motion to dismiss the defense motions, based on the lack of specifics.
“There are no facts provided, no affidavit attached to the motions – there’s nothing indicating what these allegations are based on,” Joyce said.
Morse pleaded guilty July 19 to aggravated DUI as part of a plea agreement that dismissed six other counts against him: three for reckless homicide, two misdemeanor DUIs, and an additional charge of aggravated DUI.
Police say Morse was driving 51 to 63 mph in a 30-mph zone about 11:30 p.m. that November night when his car went off the road and hit Nitsch, who was standing in the 700 block of Avenue D in Rock Falls.
No date has been set for the judge to hear arguments on the motions.