A friend of Matthew Nellessen said he phoned her one April morning in 2011 and asked for her help if he got in trouble with police.
The call came at 8:45 a.m. April 14, 2011, Amanda Meinheit testified on the third day of Matthew Nellessen's murder trial. Nellessen asked if she would bail him out if he got into trouble that day, Meinheit said.
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"It sounded like he was in a car," Meinheit said, adding that she occasionally heard sirens over the course of their 30-minute conversation.
"He said, 'If anything happens today, I love you,'" Meinheit testified.
That was the day police took Nellessen, 22, into custody after a police chase that ended in East Dundee. Nellessen and three other men were later charged with murdering 55-year-old widower George Nellessen of Arlington Heights.
Meinheit led off Thursday's testimony, recounting how she and Nellessen spent the evening of April 13, 2011, at various locations on the South Side of Chicago. She described hanging out with Nellessen and co-defendant Marlon Green, 23, at the Amber Inn.
Green testified Thursday he rented rooms there after he, Nellessen and co-defendant Armon Braden left George Nellessen's bound and gagged body in his Wilshire Lane home.
Nellessen drove them to Chicago in his father's Mercury Grand Marquis, Meinheit said. She said they ate at McDonald's, shopped at Walgreens and drove with Green and another man to a Chase Bank where Green told Nellessen to go inside.
Early on April 14, they arrived back at Meinheit's Arlington Heights home where Nellessen asked her if she wanted some money, she testified. She said "yes" and he gave her "some $20 bills."
"I didn't count it," she said. "I said I trusted him."
He also showed her George Nellessen's cracked debit card and asked her if it would still work, she said.
On April 27, 2011, several weeks after Nellessen's arrest, Meinheit said she received a letter from Nellessen in which he indicates he might need her to testify on his behalf.
He told her in the letter that three guys tried to rob him and his dad, Meinheit said. She went on to say that Nellessen did not mention being robbed while they were together in Chicago.
Prosecutors say greed motivated Matthew Nellessen, who recruited self-described gang member Green, 23, to help rob his father. Green earlier testified that he enlisted Armon Braden, 23, who supplied a BB gun Green used to force George Nellessen to divulge his user name and password, allowing Green to access George Nellessen's bank accounts.
According to Green's testimony, the trio forced George Nellessen, who was bound to a chair with duct tape and cords, to sign a blank check, which Green made out to Matthew Nellessen in the amount of $100,000.
Afterward, Green said, Matthew Nellessen retrieved a baseball bat from the garage and struck his father in the head four or five times. He then stabbed him in the neck with a kitchen knife, Green said.
Green testified he and Nellessen drove to a South Side currency exchange where they unsuccessfully tried to cash the check.
Former PLS employee Julio Rivera testified he thought it was unusual for an Arlington Heights resident to cash a check there. He further testified he tried to call George Nellessen but got no response.
A short time later, Rivera said, someone claiming to be George Nellessen called but hung up after failing to answer Rivera's questions correctly. Green previously testified that he called the currency exchange pretending to be George.
He and Matthew Nellessen used George's debit card, using the cash from his Chase account to buy cellphones, clothes and Air Jordan shoes, Green said.
George's friend Nancy Zimmerman discovered his still-bound body when she arrived to check on him the morning of April 14, 2011. A tearful Zimmerman testified Thursday that Matthew told her he did it, then immediately recanted and said "it was the Illuminati."
Her call to the authorities spurred the car chase that concluded with Nellessen's arrest. Nellessen, Green and Braden have been charged with first-degree murder, home invasion, armed robbery and aggravated kidnapping.
Also charged is Armon Braden's younger brother Azari Braden, who prosecutors say drove them to Nellessen's home.
If convicted of the most serious charge, they face up to 60 years in prison, more if jurors determine the crime was "indicative of wanton cruelty."
Green made a deal with prosecutors to testify against Nellessen and plead guilty to armed robbery. In exchange, he will receive an 18-year sentence of which he must serve 85 percent.