A Cook County judge on Tuesday denied a defense motion to reconsider the life sentence he imposed on 22-year-old Matthew Nellessen, who murdered his widowed father George Nellessen in the family's Arlington Heights home three years ago.
Matthew Nellessen's lack of contrition or remorse was one reason Judge Martin Agran cited in declining to reconsider, court transcripts show.
"At least if he had said, 'I'm sorry that I caused the events to be placed in motion which caused my father's death' it would have given me pause to consider something other than natural life," Agran said.
Cook County Assistant Public Defender Daniel Naranjo had called the life sentence excessive in light of the 18-year sentence Nellessen's co-defendant Marlon Green received in exchange for pleading guilty to armed robbery and testifying against Nellessen. Murder charges are also pending against co-defendants Armon Braden -- who authorities say supplied the pellet gun used to intimidate the victim -- and his brother Azari Braden, who authorities say drove Green and his brother from Chicago to the Nellessens' Wilshire Lane home in Arlington Heights.
"Given everything I've learned about this case, a sentence of natural life is not only not excessive, but it is the only sentence which I could have imposed for the protection of society," Agran said.
Prosecutors say greed motivated Nellessen to duct tape his 55-year-old, widowed father to a chair and force him to divulge financial account information the afternoon of April 12, 2011. Green described an enraged Nellessen who gagged his father, beat him in the head with a baseball bat and stabbed him in the neck. Afterward, say prosecutors, Green and Nellessen drove to Chicago's South Side, checked into a hotel, hung out with friends, bought clothes and other items and made several ATM withdrawals from George Nellessen's account, Green testified.
"This is not a lapse of judgment," said Agran, a former juvenile court judge, who referred to studies indicating the juvenile brain does not fully develop until the mid-twenties.
"After this crime took place, the body remained in the basement of this kid's house while he slept in that house, went to and from that house, acted like nothing took place, like it was a normal day," Agran said.
The stage was set for a life sentence after jurors found the murder of George Nellessen brutal and heinous.
George Nellessen's body was discovered April 14, 2011, after Nancy Zimmerman, his former girlfriend, arrived to check on his well-being after he failed to show up for work for several days. Matthew, who was home when Zimmerman arrived, fled the scene and led police on a high-speed chase through Hoffman Estates, Barrington Hills and East Dundee, where a blown tire led to his arrest.
In a related matter, Cook County Judge Thomas Fecarotta last month sentenced Nellessen -- who was on probation for a 2009 residential burglary at the time of the murder -- to 15 years in prison for violating his probation.