An Arlington Heights man charged with first-degree murder in the 2011 death of his father reversed course Friday and decided against representing himself.
During a hearing earlier this month, Matthew Nellessen informed Cook County Judge Martin Agran he wanted to "fire" his court-appointed defense attorney, Cook County Assistant Public Defender Daniel Naranjo, and represent himself. Agran granted the request by the 21-year-old, who authorities say robbed and killed his father, George Nellessen, on April 12, 2011.
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During a hearing Friday, however, where prosecutors turned over to Nellessen about 3,000 pages of discovery material, Nellessen seemed to waver, asking if he could speak to Naranjo's co-counsel.
"You are representing yourself," said Agran. "She is not your lawyer. She is not your standby lawyer ... Pro se means you are by yourself."
After Naranjo tendered to Nellessen several items, Nellessen stated he would like to "rehire" Naranjo.
Agran told Nellessen he would reappoint the assistant public defender, saying "It's my recommendation that you keep him as your attorney."
Naranjo has represented Nellessen -- who is being held without bond at Cook County Jail -- since his bond hearing two years ago.
Prosecutors say Nellessen orchestrated the robbery with help from Marlon Green, 23, and Armon Braden, 23. They say Armon Braden's brother, Azari Braden, 21, drove his brother and Green to the Nellessen home from Chicago in exchange for gas money and a pair of diamond earrings. All four men are charged with first-degree murder, armed robbery, aggravated kidnapping and home invasion in the death of George Nellessen, a 55-year-old widower who lived with his son in the family's Arlington Heights home.
Prosecutors say Matthew Nellessen arranged to meet Green and Armon Braden at the family's home where Nellessen tried unsuccessfully to access his father's bank account online. The three defendants were waiting in the family room when the elder Nellessen returned home from work. They confronted George Nellessen and duct taped him to a chair, prosecutors said. Braden brandished a pellet gun while Green demanded George Nellessen give his son money from his account, prosecutors said.
Matthew Nellessen forced his father to sign a check for $100,000 and took $800 from his father's wallet, authorities said. After George Nellessen said he was going to call the police, the younger Nellessen hit his father several times with a baseball bat and stabbed him in the neck, prosecutors said.
Over the next day, Matthew Nellessen withdrew money from his father's account several times at ATMs. On April 14, a friend of George Nellessen's arrived to check on him after he failed to show up for work. Matthew Nellessen let her into the home where she found George Nellessen dead, authorities said. While she called 911, authorities said, Nellessen drove away in his father's 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.
Nellessen next appears in court on Oct. 8.