Police visit to East Dundee murder suspect at jail questioned
The attorney for Richard Schmelzer, the Texas man accused of stabbing his grandmother to death in her East Dundee home, asked a Kane County judge Wednesday to admonish police and prosecutors after learning police had visited Schmelzer without the attorney being present.
Schmelzer told attorney Joshua Dieden about the visit before a court hearing Wednesday morning. Dieden told Judge Susan Clancy Boles that Schmelzer said he was fingerprinted by East Dundee police, and that they talked with him about his family and about other matters related to the investigation. Dieden said anything Schmelzer said to officers should be considered inadmissible in court, because Schmelzer had invoked his right to have his attorney present.
Schmelzer is accused of murdering Mildred "Dodie" Darrington in July.
"I don't know why they went there," assistant state's attorney Bill Engerman said in court, adding he was unaware of the police visit. He told Boles he would remind police officers and others involved in the case they are to consult him about contacting Schmelzer.
Wednesday night, East Dundee Police Chief Terry Mee confirmed that officers had visited Schmelzer at the Kane County jail Tuesday. They went there to take his fingerprints, Mee said, as part of the department's booking process. Schmelzer, 41, was arrested at his home in Frisco, Texas, and extradited directly to the jail in September. He remains in jail on $5 million bail.
"There would not have been any interview (of Schmelzer)," Mee said, saying the officers know that any statements Schmelzer made would not be admissible.
Dieden said after Wednesday's hearing it would be atypical for police to visit an inmate once the inmate has an attorney, unless police were carrying out a court order, such as collecting DNA via mouth swabs. But Mee said it was part of a "normal process," and wouldn't require obtaining permission from prosecutors.
Boles agreed to rule Dec. 17 whether the state can test for DNA in swabs of blood and other materials collected out of a car prosecutors say Schmelzer drove before and after Darrington's murder. Dieden opposes the tests, in part because he says the tests will use up all the samples, leaving none for the defense to test independently.
"I am not going to hold this up indefinitely," Boles said.
The materials were collected from the steering wheel, the gear shift, a seat belt and a blood stain on the driver's seat.
Engerman said the DNA test of the blood stain is needed to prove whether it is Darrington's blood.
Boles will also consider next month whether to deny prosecutors' requests for records from the Huntley Fire Department's investigation of a 2005 fire at Schmelzer's then-home in Huntley, and records from the insurance company Schmelzer used.
Schmelzer was charged with residential arson, according to a March 2005 Daily Herald story. There is no indication in Kane County court records of how the case was resolved.
Dieden argues the fire records are not relevant to the current case.
Prosecutors say he drove to Illinois in July in a rented car, and later stabbed Darrington. They say he had financial problems, was executor of her estate and stood to inherit half of her approximately $1 million estate, and used her credit cards for $13,000 in unauthorized cash withdrawals.