A man who got a new trial after he claimed he was misled when he agreed to accept 20 years in prison as part of the deal was sentenced Wednesday to 45 years behind bars.
Brian W. Pinkas, 43, of Granite City, was convicted of first-degree murder Sept. 13 for killing his 37-year-old girlfriend, Sharon Reynolds, in 2004. Pinkas was found to have shot Reynolds in the head with a shotgun after an argument in the home they shared.
Pinkas pleaded guilty to the murder in 2005 and was sentenced to 20 years in prison. But he appealed his sentence because Illinois law requires 25 years be added to a convict's time in prison when a gun is used in the murder, which he argued in appellate court made his plea agreement invalid.
Pinkas, in the unusual position of arguing that he was sentenced to too little time because he did not originally get the extra 25 years, was allowed to withdraw his plea and to have a new trial. His attorneys asked to plea instead to manslaughter but that request was rebuffed and the case went to trial instead.
"It was unwise of Mr. Pinkas to roll the dice with my office," Madison County State's Attorney Tom Gibbons said. "Though this was a challenging case to prosecute, we nonetheless refused a plea bargain and tried the case, and the defendant lost. His failed gamble in the justice system will more than double his prison sentence -- which is virtually a life sentence, which is appropriate for this gruesome crime."
Gibbons said the defendant could have received anywhere from 20-60 years in prison for the crime. Attorneys for Pinkas on Wednesday morning asked the sentencing be delayed. But the motion was denied by the judge.
Alorton resident Henry O. Chambers, 21, who was convicted Oct. 2 of armed robbery, attempted armed robbery and aggravated fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer was also expected to be sentenced Wednesday but the hearing was postponed until Friday.
Prosecutors told the jury that Chambers in November of 2010 robbed one person and attempted to rob another in Granite City. He and two other men fled in a stolen car, leading police on a high speed chase that reached 95 mph before he lost control of the car and crashed.
He ran from the wrecked car and was eventually found by police hiding in a portable toilet at the Pilot Truck Station in Madison.
Chambers was convicted after 90 minutes of jury deliberations.
Gibbons said Chambers could get 6 to 30 years in prison for the robbery conviction, 4 to 15 years for the attempted robbery conviction and 1 to 3 years for the fleeing conviction.