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Article updated: 2/6/2014 2:30 PM

Tests requested by Antioch-area man charged in girlfriend's death

By Lee Filas

Defense attorneys for an Antioch Township man accused of killing his longtime girlfriend have asked for more forensic tests to determine the victim's official cause of death.

Michael Axtell, 42, has pleaded not guilty to charges of first-degree murder in the death of 40-year-old Tammy Stone following an argument in their Antioch-area home on Oct. 4, 2012.

Axtell remains held in Lake County jail in lieu of $3 million bail.

Stone and Axtell had never married, but the couple had been in an on-again, off-again relationship for about 20 years, authorities have said.

The two were living apart about 10 p.m. on Oct. 4, authorities said, when 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 battered, the daughter got into a verbal argument with Axtell before retreating to a garage to cool off, authorities said. While in the garage, the daughter told police she heard a loud "thud" from inside the residence, re-entered the home 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. McHenry County Coroner officials determined the cause of death was blunt force trauma.

Axtell was arrested by Lake County sheriff's deputies about 90 minutes after leaving the home.

Defense attorney Catherine Hatch made a formal request Thursday to have a forensic expert review and test tissue samples taken from Stone's autopsy at the McHenry County Coroner's Office.

Judge Victoria Rossetti established March 15 as a status date to see if the testing has taken place.

Hatch did not disclose in court the reasons for the additional tests, and has not officially said whether she planned to use self-defense as Axtell's main defense.

Axtell's trial is tentatively scheduled for March 31, but could be postponed pending the latest rounds of testing.

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