Four men charged with the April 12 slaying of an Arlington Heights widower pleaded not guilty Monday in a Rolling Meadows courtroom.
Mathew Nellessen, 19, of Arlington Heights, and co-defendants Marlon L. Green, 20, and brothers Armon, 20, and Azari Braden, 19, all of Chicago, were arraigned on charges of first-degree murder, home invasion, aggravated kidnapping and armed robbery in the death of Nellessen's father George, a 55-year-old machinist who lived with his son.
Prosecutors say Mathew Nellessen -- who was on probation for a 2009 burglary at the time of the murder -- planned to rob his father. Mathew Nellessen sought help from Green, whom he met during a stint at Cook County jail, prosecutors said. According to their account, Green contacted Armon Braden, who supplied a pellet gun, and Azari Braden, who drove his brother and Green to the Nellessen home.
Police say Mathew Nellessen forced his father to write him a check for $100,000. After George Nellessen threatened to call the police, Mathew Nellessen stuffed a rag in his mouth, duct taped his eyes and nose, hit him with a baseball bat and stabbed him in the neck, authorities said.
"It's mind-boggling how anyone could do that to their own father," said Bill Vorhies, a friend of George Nellessen's for 10 years who was in court Monday. George Nellessen was found on April 14, still bound to the chair, by another friend who came to see why Nellessen had failed to show up for work for several days. Police said the friend encountered Mathew Nellessen at the door. Mathew Nellessen fled in a car and led police on a 30-minute chase through Hoffman Estates and Barrington Hills before he was stopped and taken into custody in East Dundee.
Vorhies saw George Nellessen a few days before his death. "He had a lot of friends," said Vorhies, of Arlington Heights. "He was a good man."
Mathew Nellessen was "always a concern" to his father, said Vorhies, who never met the younger Nellessen. "He tried to do the best for his boy."
Mathew Nellessen, who is being represented by the Cook County public defender, is being held in Cook County jail on no bail. A Cook County judge set bail at $1.5 million to $3 million for the other defendants, who also remain in jail.
Nellessen appears in court August 15. The other three have court dates of Aug. 16.