The trial for an Antioch Township man accused of killing his longtime girlfriend nearly one year ago has been postponed for a third time.
Michael Axtell, 42, remains held in Lake County jail in lieu of $3 million bail on three counts of first-degree murder for the slaying of his 40-year-old ex-girlfriend, Tammy Stone.
His trial was initially scheduled to begin Oct. 7, but defense attorney Catherine Hatch requested it be delayed while additional evidence testing is completed. Lake County Judge Victoria Rossetti agreed Thursday to postpone the trial until Jan. 6.
The trial was delayed two other times -- in February and April -- while both sides prepared their cases.
Lake County Assistant State's Attorney Rod Drobinski said Thursday that Hatch also must disclose to prosecutors whether they plan to use self-defense as the main defense. Hatch said the additional evidence testing would clarify that.
Axtell pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in Stone's death at the home they shared in the 26000 block of West Bond Avenue.
Stone and Axtell had never married, but the couple had been in an on-again, off-again relationship for about 20 years.
At about 10 p.m. on Oct. 4, while the two were allegedly living apart, Stone phoned her daughter to say she was "in a physical altercation" with Axtell, prompting the teen and two of her friends to drive to the home.
After seeing Stone with a black eye, the daughter got into a scuffle with Axtell before retreating to a garage to cool off, authorities said.
The daughter told authorities she heard a loud "thud" from inside the residence and found her mother unconscious and Axtell leaving.
Authorities said Antioch paramedics took Stone to the Northern Illinois Medical Center in McHenry where she later died. Coroner officials determined the cause of death was blunt force trauma.
Axtell was arrested by Lake County sheriff deputies about 90 minutes after leaving the home.