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Man pleads guilty to killing NIU student

A man was sentenced to 37 years in prison for murdering a Northern Illinois University student.

William Curl, 36, pleaded guilty Wednesday to killing Antinette “Toni” Keller in October 2010 as part of a plea deal.

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A convicted murderer wants a judge to throw out his prison sentence because he claims prosecutors threatened his son.

After accepting a plea deal, William Curl was given 37 years in prison for the 2010 murder of Northern Illinois University student Antinette “Toni” Keller.

The Daily Chronicle newspaper in Dekalb reports Curl filed a motion claiming he did not understand the plea agreement.

He also accused prosecutors of threatening to go after his 13-year old son if he failed to accept the plea.

Prosecutors say they never considered filing charges against Curl’s son.

A judge will consider the motion at a hearing next week.

A man is sentenced to 37 years in prison for murdering a Northern Illinois University student.

William Curl, 36, pleaded guilty Wednesday to killing Antinette “Toni” Keller in October 2010 as part of a plea deal. He was scheduled to go on trial on April 11th.

“I asked him this morning how he felt. He seemed at peace with it. He was ready to get going,” said Public Defender Tom McCullough.

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William Curl, 36, (left) pleaded guilty Wednesday to killing Antinette “Toni” Keller (right) in October 2010.

Keller was an 18 year-old art student from Plainfield. She vanished on October 14, 2010. She told friends she was going to Prairie Park to do some sketching. She was reported missing when she didn’t return by the next morning.

Police found human remains the next day. It took three months to identify them. Curl was charged sixteen days after Keller disappeared.

Authorities initially interviewed Curl because he went to the park often. They began searching for him when he didn’t show up for a second interview. They eventually found him at a motel in Louisiana.

Keller’s family is stunned by the plea deal, and State’s Attorney Richard Schmack was left to defend his decision.

“I called the case challenging because it would have involved a trial without occurrence witnesses, a murder weapon, a time of death, a cause of death, limited forensic evidence, and no confession to the crime of murder…,” said Schmack.

WGN News Writer C. Hayes published this story.

The attorney for William Curl, Tom McCulloch, and Dekalb County State’s Attorney Richard Schmack comment on the 37-year prison sentence.

A man from DeKalb is expected to plead guilty Wednesday to a high-profile murder, two and a half years ago.

NIU freshman Antinette “Toni” Keller was raped, murdered and her body set on fire and dumped in DeKalb’s Prairie Park in October of 2010.

William Curl was to have faced trial April 11 for Keller’s murder.

By pleading guilty, Curl will accept a 37-year prison sentence with no hope of parole, and no time off for good behavior.

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