December trial set for grandson accused of E. Dundee murder

  • Richard Schmelzer, shown here in an October 2014 court appearance, faces up to 60 years in prison if convicted of first-degree murder in the death of his grandmother Mildred "Dodie" Darrington, 85, whose body was found July 18, 2014, in her East Dundee home.

    Richard Schmelzer, shown here in an October 2014 court appearance, faces up to 60 years in prison if convicted of first-degree murder in the death of his grandmother Mildred "Dodie" Darrington, 85, whose body was found July 18, 2014, in her East Dundee home. Pool Photo By Chuck Berman/Chicago Tribune

 
 
Updated 9/7/2016 4:08 PM

A Texas man accused of killing his grandmother at her East Dundee home in July 2014 for a share of her inheritance will go on trial Dec. 5.

Kane County Judge Linda Abrahamson ruled Wednesday statements by Richard C. Schmelzer to police would be allowed at trial.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Prosecutors said Schmelzer, 43, of the Dallas suburb of Frisco, drove to Illinois and killed Mildred "Dodie" Darrington, 85, for her inheritance because he had financial problems.

According to police affidavits used to secure search warrants, authorities believe Schmelzer rented a car under a different name, bought a prepaid cellphone and drove here to kill Darrington, whose body was found the morning of July 18 in her East Dundee home. He then drove back to Texas while his wife and kids were out of town and he was supposed to be at a work conference.

He was cited for violating a toll on Interstate 355 and Boughton Road in Bolingbrook at 2:33 a.m. July 18, records show, and his rental car had 1,920 miles on it when it was returned.

Defense attorney Joshua Dieden sought to have Schmelzer's July 24, 2014, interview at the South Elgin police station banned from trial. In the interview, Schmelzer boasts he pays for everything in cash and presented a July 17 receipt from dinner at a Texas restaurant as an alibi. Police became suspicious when they saw the meal was paid for with a credit card, and the restaurant manager did not recall seeing him that night as Schmelzer told police.

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Dieden argued his client's statements were involuntary because he was tricked by police in a coercive environment, in a fragile mental state from Darrington's funeral the day before, and tired from travel.

"(Police) want to have home-field advantage there," Dieden argued. "They want to have every coercive tactic available."

Abrahamson rejected notions police used a strategy of question the suspect first and read Miranda Rights later. She also ruled police did not intimidate Schmelzer into talking.

"They did not raise their voices. They did not accuse the defendant of anything. They did challenge him on some inconsistencies," Abrahamson said.

Schmelzer faces between 20 and 60 years in prison if convicted of first-degree murder. He has been held on $5 million bail at the Kane County jail since his extradition from Texas in September 2014.

The trial is expected to last more than a week.

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