La Salle County’s courthouse is mask-free and accordingly ready for lengthy jury trials, but three pending homicide cases might not proceed this spring.
Thursday, two murder suspects and the defendant in a drug-induced homicide all appeared for pre-trial hearings but, despite the loosening infection controls, none of three left with imminent trial dates.
Michael Swift, 30, of Mokena, accused of stabbing an Ottawa woman, was ordered to return for an April 7 status hearing. Attorneys are waiting to what happens March 24 in Kendall County, where prosecutors said Swift tried to arrange the murders of two people associated with his La Salle County case.
Swift faces 20-60 years if convicted of first-degree murder in the 2021 stabbing of Grace Taylor in her south-side Ottawa apartment, with additional time coming for if convicted of solicitation of murder for hire.
Bradley M. French, 28, formerly of Varna could get trial dates on his murder case when he appears next Friday, March 11. French’s lawyer was unavailable Thursday so prosecutors agreed to a one-week continuance.
French is awaiting re-trial for the 2015 killing of Joshua Scaman of Ottawa. French admitted firing a razor-tipped hunting arrow at Scaman, who died of blood loss, but tried to argue self-defense at trial and successfully persuaded an appeals court to reverse his conviction.
Brian K. Mulcahy, 56, of Lake Barrington, agreed to continue waiving his right to a speedy trial while he seeks private counsel. Judge Cynthia M. Raccuglia issued a summer trial setting (next appearance: July 14) while he seeks to replace the public defender.
Mulcahy is charged with drug-induced homicide, a Class X felony carrying 6-30 years and no possibility of probation, for allegedly delivering a substance containing fentanyl to a youth, 15, who overdosed.
One homicide case that is scheduled this spring, at least for now, is the double shooting in Sheridan.
Donald Fredres, 38, of Sandwich, remains set for trial April 25 for allegedly killing his former in-laws in their Sheridan home. Fredres was set for trial Jan. 10, but a COVID-19 outbreak scuttled that trial setting and attorneys now are pushing for trial at the end of April.
Fredres faces multiple felonies led by first-degree murder for the shooting deaths of Gregory S. Barnes Sr. and Brenda J. Barnes, both 62, his former in-laws. If convicted of the two murders he faces an automatic sentence of life in prison. (Illinois abolished the death penalty in 2011.)
Source: The Daily Chronicle