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updated: 8/13/2012 12:10 PM

Villa Park man pleads not guilty to girlfriend's arson murder

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  • Todd Mandoline

      Todd Mandoline

 

A Villa Park man pleaded not guilty Monday to setting a July 22 fire in Lombard that killed his former girlfriend.

Todd Mandoline, 23, is charged with first-degree murder, aggravated arson and criminal damage to property in the death of Paula Morgan. He could face natural life in prison if convicted, prosecutors said.

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Mandoline was arraigned before DuPage County Judge John Kinsella. Mandoline was previously represented by a public defender but has since hired prominent Glen Ellyn attorney Brian Telander.

At Telander's request, Kinsella agreed to postpone a formal bond hearing. Mandoline has been held without bond since his arrest.

"I need to sit down with the family and see what they realistically can raise," Telander said.

Mandoline is accused of torching Morgan's car after he was removed from a party celebrating her 25th birthday. The flames spread from the car to Morgan's home through an attached garage, killing her and critically injuring her friend, 25-year-old Jason Cassidy of Villa Park.

Prosecutors said Mandoline had a dating relationship with Morgan and flew into a rage when he believed she was spending time with another man inside her home. Cassidy's father said recently his son has burns covering nearly 40 percent of his body and remains hospitalized in the intensive care unit at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood.

Mandoline appeared in court Monday wearing an orange jail outfit with his hands cuffed in front of him. He did not speak other than to say he understood the charges and possible penalties.

He returns to court Oct. 1.

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