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Local

Accused in Spring Valley murder, Mentgen requests bench trial

Trial postponed from Dec. 9 until Feb. 18

PRINCETON — A Spring Valley man accused of murder motioned the judge for a bench trial during a hearing Thursday in Bureau County Circuit Court.

Eddie L. Mentgen Jr., 38, will not face a jury of his peers when he stands trial on a charge of killing then-girlfriend Marissa Roberts this past spring. Instead, he opted to have his case presented before Judge C.J. Hollerich.

Mentgen has been held in the Illinois Department of Corrections since his April arrest, having been taken into custody in Wisconsin days after authorities say he bludgeoned 27-year-old Roberts to death in her Spring Valley apartment.

In a move that State's Attorney Geno Caffarini said wasn't necessarily expected, Public Defender Brad Popurella presented a written motion to opt out of a jury trial. Popurella also presented a motion to delay the trial from Dec. 9 of this year to Feb. 18 of 2020, which the judge accepted.

Mentgen asked to remain in custody of the Department of Corrections where Popurella said he's being treated for an unspecified medical condition. He's previously argued through his attorney to remain in DOC custody for a variety of reasons, including access to a law library and 24/7 telephone access.

During the hearing, the parties intended to argue a motion on whether Mentgen's previous criminal history could be introduced at trial. He was on parole at the time of the murder.

However, First Assistant State's Attorney Thomas Briddick dropped that motion at the hearing. Caffarini later said the introduction of a prior history may have less bearing on a bench trial.

Mentgen, if convicted, faces up to 20 to 60 years in prison.

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