Hillside terrorist's attempt to retract guilty plea stopped by federal judge

ByChuck Goudie and Barb Markoff, Christine Tressel and Ross Weidner WLS logo
Thursday, December 22, 2022
Hillside terrorist's attempt to retract guilty plea stopped by judge
Adel Daoud, a convicted wanna-be terrorist, will simply have a new sentencing hearing in two months in Chicago instead of a new trial.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Instead of a new trial in Chicago, convicted wanna-be terrorist Adel Daoud will simply have a new sentencing hearing in two months.

Daoud, 29, pleaded guilty to attempting a Loop attack with what he thought was a 1,000 pound bomb. The Hillside man, a teenager at the time of the 2012 FBI undercover sting, had been trying for several months to take back the guilty plea and proceed to trial.

US District Judge Matthew Kennelly ruled against Daoud and ordered on Tuesday that his guilty plea from 2018 remain in force.

The video in this story is from a previous report

This was the latest unusual turn of events in an already oddball case-even by Chicago crime standards. As the I-Team has reported extensively the past decade, Daoud believed that "lizard people," and "cosmic aliens," were involved in overseeing the government and he called the judge in his case "a reptilian overlord."

RELATED: FBI undercover agent asked Chicago terror subject Adel Daoud to provide target list

The suburban man's mental competency was a legal question since the beginning of the case. Daoud was 17 years old when he popped onto FBI radar as a potential terror threat. He was taken down in a sting operation when he tried to detonate what he thought was a highly destructive bomb outside a Loop tavern, the Cactus Bar and Grill.

His guilty arrangement itself was unusual, submitted under what is known in legal proceedings as an "Alford plea." In such a plea deal a defendant is found to be legally guilty without a trial and without actually admitting guilt-or having to admit that they did anything wrong.

Prosecutors said that Daoud had struck his original guilty plea deal in good faith and after consulting closely with defense attorneys who believed it was the best course of action considering the overwhelming evidence-despite the fact that it resulted in a lengthy prison sentence anyway.

A different lawyer was attempting to have the guilty plea thrown out but Daoud, apparently dissatisfied with that attorney as well, told Judge Kennelly that he didn't trust any lawyers and could do a better job representing himself in court. The judge told Daoud that such a plan was a "colossally stupid idea" and urged against self-representation. In the end Kennelly granted the request to dismiss the attorney. "It's your life," the judge said in court.

Daoud is currently scheduled for release in 2026. However, as the unusual legal maneuvering was playing out, an appeal of Daoud's 16-year sentence by the government resulted in a resentencing order that could complicate his situation even further. Prosecutors argued on appeal that the original sentence was too short considering the seriousness of the crime. The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago ordered a new sentencing hearing which is scheduled for Feb. 21 at the Dirksen Federal Building in downtown Chicago. That new sentencing could result in substantially more time in prison for Daoud according to Gil Soffer, a former assistant US Attorney in Chicago and ABC7's legal analyst. The government may return to its original sentencing request in the Daoud case, Soffer says, in which prosecutors asked for 40 years behind bars.

Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report


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