Lake Zurich man attempts to change plea in attempted drug- induced homicide

Posted10/2/2012 7:10 PM
  • Cody A. Searles

    Cody A. Searles

A 21-year-old Lake Zurich man who pleaded guilty last month to attempted drug-induced homicide made a play to withdraw that plea Tuesday, claiming he didn't understand the charge he agreed to in negotiations with prosecutors.

However, Lake County Judge John Phillips told Cody Searles of Lake Zurich that he clearly understood what he pleaded guilty to, and that he is unable to take it back now.

Searles was 19 when he delivered heroin to Christian Medina, 18, of Lake Zurich, and an unidentified 17-year-old girl in August 2011. That heroin put all three teens in the hospital, authorities said, and killed Medina three days later.

Because of the death, Searles was initially charged with two counts of drug-induced homicide. However, Searles agreed to a plea deal with Lake County Assistant State's Attorney Steven DeRue and that reduced the charge to attempted drug-induced homicide, a class 1 felony that could put him in prison for up to 14 years.

But, earlier this week, Searles had defense attorneys file a motion to withdraw his guilty plea, claiming he thought it involved another, lesser charge.

In court Tuesday afternoon, Searles said he thought he was pleading guilty to a charge of "attempt to deliver, or something like that," but not attempted drug-induced homicide.

"It wasn't fully explained to me," Searles said on the witness stand. "I didn't know it was attempted drug-induced homicide. I didn't hear the rest of the charge after the word attempted."

However, DeRue claimed Searles answered all the questions in court correctly when asked whether he understood the plea deal to which he agreed. In addition, DeRue said nothing prevented Searles from speaking up in September when he pleaded guilty to attempted drug-induced homicide.

Phillips agreed, saying Searles was levelheaded and understood the charge when he pleaded guilty.

"I specifically told him the charge he was pleading guilty to, and he agreed throughout the plea," Phillips said. "He was polite, direct and didn't say he was confused at any time."

Searles is due back in court Oct. 11 for sentencing.

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