Convicted Killer Seeks To Withdraw Plea In NIU Student’s Murder

William Curl (Credit: Illinois Department of Corrections)

William Curl (Credit: Illinois Department of Corrections)

DEKALB, Ill. (CBS) — It might be two weeks before a DeKalb County judge rules whether the man who pleaded guilty to the murder of Northern Illinois University student Toni Keller can change that plea.

WBBM Newsradio’s Nancy Harty reports William “Billy” Curl was sentenced to 37 years in prison in April, after pleading guilty to killing Keller in October 2010.

He had been accused of attacking Keller, 18, as she walked in Prairie Park, near the NIU campus, on Oct. 14, 2010. He allegedly raped her, killed her, and burned her body.

Photo Of Antinette Keller (Personal Photo)

Photo Of Antinette Keller (Personal Photo)

Though he pleaded guilty, Curl maintained he did not kill Keller, insisting she died of a seizure after having consensual sex in the park. He maintained his innocence, while acknowledging prosecutors would have convicted him at trial.

Curl, 36, appeared in court Tuesday after filing a motion to have his plea thrown out, claiming prosecutors threatened his teenage son.

However, he waited more than 100 days to file his motion to withdraw the negotiated plea, and prosecutors said that was well beyond the 30-day deadline to do so.

A DeKalb County judge did not rule on the motion right away, and scheduled a new hearing for Sept. 5.

Keller’s family was upset with Curl’s 37-year sentence, saying it was too lenient, but said they were relieved to avoid the ordeal of a trial.

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