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Local

Judge rules cellphone, Facebook messages can be used as evidence

Mentgen murder trial set for next month

Eddie L. Mentgen Jr. is shown in a June 2019 file photo. Mentgen, accused of murdering his girlfriend on April 5, faces a jury trial in Bureau County Circuit Court to start Dec. 9.
Eddie L. Mentgen Jr. is shown in a June 2019 file photo. Mentgen, accused of murdering his girlfriend on April 5, faces a jury trial in Bureau County Circuit Court to start Dec. 9.

PRINCETON — The judge in the upcoming murder trial for a Spring Valley man ruled Wednesday that cellphone and Facebook messages can be introduced as evidence in his trial.

Eddie L. Mentgen Jr., 38, is accused of murdering his 27-year-old girlfriend Marissa Roberts by bludgeoning her with a hammer on April 5 in her apartment.

He was apprehended in Wisconsin April 9 after fleeing the area and allegedly lying about the whereabouts of two of Roberts' three children in the wake of her death. He has been held in the Department of Corrections since his arrest.

Bureau County First Assistant State's Attorney Thomas Briddick introduced a motion before Bureau County Circuit Judge C.J. Hollerich requesting that "records of business," including cellphone and Facebook messages, be admitted into evidence, something Public Defender Brad Popurella had no objection to.

Wednesday's hearing was intended to be a final pretrial hearing for Mentgen — he faces trial in December. Instead, he will appear Nov. 14 for a ruling on another motion by prosecutors on whether his past criminal history can be introduced at trial. If so, past convictions can be brought up at trial only if Mentgen takes the stand in his own defense.

Hollerich said he was amenable to the change of date, as long as both sides have their motions in order in a timely manner.

"I just want to decide whatever motions are necessary before trial," he said. "I don't have a lot of information without getting into them, but I hope that more information will be available before the next appearance."

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