An Antioch Township man accused of murdering his longtime girlfriend rejected a plea agreement Monday that would have put him in prison for 20 years.
Now, Michael Axtell, 41, is scheduled to go to trial later this month for the murder of Tammy Stone, 40, at their Antioch home in October, 2012.
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Axtell rejected a plea of second-degree murder in front of Lake County Judge Victoria Rossetti at Lake County court Monday morning. He now faces three counts of first-degree murder at trial, which could send him to prison for up to 60 years. Axtell is held in Lake County jail in lieu of $3 million bond.
Neither Lake County Assistant State's Attorney Eric Kalata nor defense attorney Katherine Hatch would comment following the hearing.
According to police, Stone and Axtell had never married, but the couple had been in an on-again, off-again relationship for the past 20 years, authorities said.
On Oct. 4, while Stone and Axtell were living apart, Stone phoned her daughter about 10 p.m. to say she was "in a physical altercation" with Axtell, prompting the girl to drive to her mother's home.
After seeing Stone with a black eye, the unidentified daughter got into a scuffle with Axtell that caused no serious injuries, authorities said. After the teen retreated into an attached garage to cool off, authorities said, she heard a loud "thud" from inside the residence and went back inside to see Axtell leaving.
The daughter went to her mother's bedroom where Stone was found unresponsive. She phoned police and Stone was taken to Centegra Hospital-McHenry where she was pronounced dead, authorities said.
McHenry County Coroner officials determined the cause of death was blunt force trauma, but police found no weapons at the scene.
Axtell fled the home after the death, but was arrested by Lake County sheriff deputies a short time later.
The plea deal that Axtell rejected was offered following a conference between Rossetti and attorneys last week.
Rossetti said in court that prosecutors have a videotaped confession in which Axtell admitted to killing Stone, and that the two had been drinking prior to the confrontation in the house.
Rossetti also said defense attorneys believe Stone had a history of alcohol abuse and the fight may have been mutual combat.
The two sides are due back in court June 17.