Friday, October 28, 2011

Convict says he was ‘coerced’ into plea

Freddy Tellez seeks reconsideration of prison sentence


By TERRY SMITH
Express Staff Writer

Convicted murderer Freddy Tellez is claiming in new documents filed in Blaine County 5th District Court that he was “coerced” into pleading guilty in 2008. Tellez—currently serving a 24-years-to-life prison sentence—is shown here at sentencing in 2008. Express file photo

Freddy Tellez, a Hailey man convicted of second-degree murder for bludgeoning his ex-girlfriend to death four years ago, is now claiming that he was "coerced" into pleading guilty and is seeking reconsideration of his 24-years-to-life prison sentence.

Tellez, in what appears to be his own handwriting, filed a petition for post-conviction relief on Sept. 30 in Blaine County 5th District Court. Judge Robert J. Elgee, who sentenced Tellez in 2008, has already filed an order of dismissal, stating in the order that Tellez missed the filing deadline.

But that doesn't mean the case is dead altogether.

According to judicial rules, Tellez has 20 days from the date of the dismissal, issued Oct. 20, to try to change Elgee's mind.

"Sometimes there is good cause to allow a longer time to file a petition," said Hailey attorney Cheri Hicks, who was court-appointed on Oct. 20 to represent Tellez under her public defender contract with Blaine County.

Hicks said she has contacted Tellez to find out if he has a valid reason for missing the deadline.

Tellez alleged in his petition for post-conviction relief that he had ineffective legal counsel in the murder-case proceedings, that he was "coerced into making a guilty plea," that he did not understand that he was waving his appeal rights by entering into a plea agreement with the Blaine County Prosecuting Attorney's Office and that he should have been tried as a juvenile since he was only 17 at the time of the murder.

Hailey attorney Douglas Werth, who was appointed public defender for Tellez in the murder case, did not return a telephone call to the Idaho Mountain Express by press deadline Thursday.

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Tellez was originally charged with first-degree murder in the death of Margarita Guardado, a 16-year-old Wood River High School student, on Aug. 17, 2007. According to court and police records, Tellez struck Guardado in the head four times with a hammer, then poured a flammable liquid on her body and set it on fire. Her badly burned body was found the following morning in front of her mother's home on Mountain Ash Drive in Hailey.

Her mother, Maria Mares, told the Express later that she was only able to recognize her daughter by the ring on her finger.

In accord with the plea agreement, Tellez admitted to second-degree murder in 2008 and was sentenced to 24 years to life in prison on Aug. 7 of that year.

Tellez, now 21, is currently listed as inmate number 89240 in Cellblock H at the Idaho state penitentiary near Boise. According to prison records, he is not eligible for parole until Aug. 19, 2031.

Though he waived his appeal rights in the plea agreement, Tellez appealed his sentence anyway to the Idaho Supreme Court. The high court finally ruled on Jan. 26, 2010, that Tellez had knowingly surrendered his right to appeal.

Because of judicial rules, Elgee wrote in his order of dismissal that Tellez had until May 5 of this year to file for post-conviction relief, but that he failed to do so.

Hicks said that if she can find a valid reason why Tellez missed the deadline, the judge will likely schedule a hearing to consider arguments.

Prosecuting Attorney Jim Thomas said Wednesday that he is currently preparing a response to the Tellez petition.

"We will vigorously defend the conviction and sentence of Freddy Tellez," Thomas said.

Terry Smith: tsmith@mtexpress.com




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