Psychiatric exam for man accused of killing NIU student

Updated 11/1/2010 4:12 PM

The man accused of killing Neuqua Valley High School graduate Antinette "Toni" Keller will meet with a clinical psychologist, defense attorneys said in court Monday morning.

Regina Harris, head public defender for DeKalb County, told a circuit court judge that the move was based on a meeting she had with William "Billy" Curl, 34, on Sunday.


While a somber and emotionless Curl listened in through a closed-circuit television feed, a DeKalb County circuit judge read off several charges facing the DeKalb man in the murder of Keller, an 18-year-old Northern Illinois University freshman from Plainfield who graduated from the Naperville high school io May.

Keller was last seen Oct. 14 heading to Prairie Park in DeKalb to look for ideas for an art project. Two days later, police found charred human remains near some of Keller's possessions in the park. The body has yet to be identified, a process police say could take weeks.

During the routine status hearing, Circuit Judge Robbin Stuckert told Curl that he faced seven charges related to the murder, including five counts of first-degree murder, one of arson and one of criminal sexual assault. Curl nodded at each and said he understood the charges and penalties. Two of the murder charges carry the possibility of the death penalty.

After the hearing, Harris would not elaborate on the decision to bring in the Sycamore-based psychologist, saying she did not want to argue the case in the media.

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"I met with my client and got to know him and make sure he's OK," Harris said after the hearing.

Curl's next court date is Nov. 30.

Harris said she has yet to receive police reports in the case. Because it hasn't been long since the charges were filed, that's not a surprise.

"It's been 48 hours," she said. "I have no police reports, I have nothing."

She said Curl seemed to be holding up "about as expected" when she met with him Sunday.

Mary Tarling, Keller's cousin who has been acting as the family's spokeswoman, said Monday that family members have avoided any preliminary hearings

"For right now, we are going to try to limit what we have to confront ourselves with, to an extent," she said.

DeKalb County Assistant State's Attorney Phil Montgomery said the call for an evaluation was unexpected.

"She has not told us and we don't know why," he said after the hearing.


Montgomery said a meeting scheduled for Monday with the Major Case Squad, which headed the investigation into Keller's murder, would "tie up loose ends" and that the police reports would be shared with the defense before the next court date.

Montgomery said it was still too early to tell if prosecutors would seek the death penalty. However, if that decision is made, he said they would notify the court as soon as possible.

Two people at the hearing on behalf of Curl including one later identified by ABC 7 Chicago as Curl's sister left the courtroom in tears.