Authorities detail how robbery turned to murder

  • Mathew Nellessen

    Mathew Nellessen

  • Armon Braden

    Armon Braden

  • Azari Braden

    Azari Braden

  • Marlon Green

    Marlon Green

  • George Nellessen

    George Nellessen

Updated 4/19/2011 12:24 AM

Before he died, George W. Nellessen told a witness that he feared one day his son would kill him.

Less than a week later, Nellessen was dead -- at the hands of his son, Mathew Nellessen, prosecutors say. The 19-year-old robbed and killed his father with help from three other men, one of whom he met while serving time in Cook County jail for violating his probation for a 2009 burglary conviction, the Cook County prosecutors say.


They quoted the witness, whom they did not name, during a bond hearing Monday for the men charged with first-degree murder and armed robbery in the slaying of the 55-year-old widower, who was found Thursday in the family room of his tidy, well-maintained Arlington Heights home.

Cook County Circuit Judge Kay Hanlon ordered Mathew Nellessen held without bail, saying prosecutors had shown probable cause that "the defendant's actions caused the death of the victim." Nellessen could face a life sentence if convicted, prosecutors said.

Hanlon set bail at $3 million for Marlon L. Green, 20, of the 4000 block of South St. Lawrence in Chicago; $2 million for Armon Braden, 20, of the 700 block of East 83rd St. in Chicago; and $1.5 million for his brother Azari M. Braden, 19, of the 2000 block of South Michigan Avenue in Chicago.

Prosecutors suggested robbery was the motive behind the slaying, which they outlined in gruesome detail Monday in a Rolling Meadows courtroom.

After his release late last month from Cook County jail, Mathew Nellessen was living with his father in his home on the 1000 block of Wilshire Lane, Cook County Assistant State's Attorney Maria McCarthy said.

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Prosecutors accuse Mathew Nellessen of waiting until his father was at work Tuesday, April 12, before calling Green, a jail acquaintance, to ask for his help in robbing his father. Green agreed and asked for help from Armon Braden, who also agreed and supplied a pellet gun, which authorities later recovered, McCarthy said.

Azari Braden drove Armon Braden and Green to Nellessen's home, McCarthy said. The two passengers went inside with Mathew Nellessen, who tried unsuccessfully to access his father's bank account, McCarthy said.

When the victim arrived home from work, he found a slip of paper with his name, Social Security number and date of birth on it and confronted his son, she said. At that point, Armon Braden came out of a closet where he had been hiding, pointed the pellet gun at the victim and ordered him to sit down, McCarthy said.

Nellessen and Braden are accused of duct taping the victim to the chair and demanding money. The victim provided information about accessing his financial accounts, while pleading with his son not to empty the account of his retirement money, McCarthy said.


Mathew Nellessen wrote himself a check for $100,000 and freed his father's hand to sign it, McCarthy said. Nellessen also took $800 from his father's wallet, giving $400 to Armon Braden and $200 to Green, McCarthy said.

After George Nellessen threatened to call the police, Mathew said they had to kill him, McCarthy told the court. Mathew Nellessen then stuffed a rag into his father's mouth, duct taped his eyes and nose and hit him five times with a baseball bat, McCarthy said.

Realizing George Nellessen was still alive, Mathew Nellessen retrieved a knife from the kitchen and stabbed his father twice in the neck, McCarthy said.

Nellessen threw the knife and other bloody items into a bag and left the home with Green and Braden, McCarthy told the court. The brothers returned to Chicago in Azari Braden's car, and Nellessen and Green drove the victim's car to the South Side of Chicago, where they rented hotel rooms, McCarthy said.

Later that night, Nellessen tried to cash the $100,000 check at a South Side currency exchange, where a suspicious clerk told Nellessen he had to verify the information and photocopied the check and Nellessen's ID, McCarthy said. That transaction was recorded on video, as were several other withdrawals Nellessen made from his father's account at various ATMs on the South Side.

Nellessen gave Green $1,000, and Green gave a portion to Armon Braden, McCarthy said. Nellessen told Green he was going to burn the items he took from the house and was later caught on videotape purchasing two cans of lighter fluid from a South Side store, McCarthy said.

Prosecutors say Nellessen then returned Wednesday evening to the family home in Arlington Heights.

Concerned that George Nellessen hadn't shown up for work, his employer asked a friend to check on him. When the woman, who was not identified in court, arrived Thursday morning at the Nellessen home, Mathew Nellessen refused to let her in, McCarthy said.

When she asked how George Nellessen was, Mathew Nellessen replied, "You will know right away," McCarthy said.

The witness discovered the victim still taped to the chair in the family room, McCarthy said. While she called police about 8:45 a.m., police said Mathew Nellessen fled in a tan Mercury Grand Marquis.

A Schaumburg police officer spotted the car about 9:30 a.m. Thursday near Harper College and tried to initiate a traffic stop. Nellessen led police on a 30-minute chase through Hoffman Estates and Barrington Hills before concluding in East Dundee, where police took him into custody, authorities said.

From the car, police recovered the check signed by the victim and a piece of paper with the victim's name and address in handwriting, which Green identified as his, McCarthy said. Police also recovered merchandise from Nellessen's hotel room, which they said he purchased using his father's debit card.

The three Chicago men made videotaped statements admitting their participation in the crime, said McCarthy, who praised Arlington Heights police and members of the Major Case Assistance Team for their efforts.

Green has a 2010 conviction for mob action for which he served 60 days in Cook County jail. He also received 18 months' probation for stealing money from a victim at a bus stop in 2009 and one year conditional discharge for a 2009 theft. Armon Braden received 30 months' probation for a 2008 theft, and Azari Braden, a student at Southern Illinois University, has a case pending in Madison County, Ill., for criminal damage to property. He also received supervision in St. Clair County, Ill., for a 2010 theft.

Nellessen attended Prospect High School in Mount Prospect sporadically from August 2006 to September 2009 when he withdrew for good, said Northwest Suburban High School District 214 spokeswoman Venetia Miles, who described his attendance as "spotty."

He has a 2009 conviction for residential burglary for which he was sentenced to boot camp. However, he was found ineligible for the program, McCarthy said, and he was resentenced to two years' probation. He violated that probation in August 2010 and was placed in Cook County jail's inpatient drug rehabilitation program. Court records show he failed to report for additional probation in November 2010, was picked up on a warrant and spent 30 days in jail. He was released March 25.

Nellessen also received a misdemeanor conviction for possession of cannabis in 2009, the same year he was sentenced to supervision and community service for deceptive practices, McCarthy said.

Nellessen is taking medication for depression, Assistant Public Defender Daniel Naranjo said. He is scheduled to appear in court April 22 for violating his probation. All four defendants return to court May 9.

• Daily Herald staff reporter Sheila Ahern contributed to this report.