DIXON – The defense attorney for a former Amboy man accused of murder argued Thursday in favor of barring some previous convictions from being admitted as evidence.
Matthew W. Welling, 33, accused of killing Delmar Daniels in his home during July 2012, is charged with first-degree murder in the incident. Lee County State's Attorney Anna Sacco-Miller said that she intends to use the two past convictions as evidence that Welling has a penchant for losing control when he's intoxicated.
As the death of Daniels happened while Welling was intoxicated, she thinks the convictions are relevant.
One of the convictions is for a DUI offense, but the second, and the one Sacco-Miller sees as being more relevant to the matter at hand, is a December 2008 misdemeanor battery that Welling was convicted of in DeKalb County.
According to Sacco-Miller, who was citing court documents, Welling was involved in a fight while intoxicated during which he punched one man in the chest and choked another so severely that a third man was unable to tell whether the choked man was dead or alive. The man Welling choked was, apparently, later revived.
Welling's attorney, Lee County Public Defender Bob Thompson, argued in Lee County Court that presenting that conviction as evidence would show his client in an unfair light, as a misdemeanor battery that occurred while intoxicated could hardly be compared to intentionally killing someone.
"The state cannot use a misdemeanor to prove a murder," Thompson said. "There's nothing related here."
Judge Ron Jacobson reserved judgment on that matter until Monday, as well as a request filed by the state.
That request was filed by Sacco-Miller in response to Jacobson's decision to bar her from presenting evidence or referring to Welling's alleged threats to kill, or come back and kill, two men during a fight that happened the same night of, but before, Daniels' killing.
Judge Ron Jacobson originally decided not to allow those statements to be discussed during the trial because the defendant is not charged with killing either of the men, and neither is mentioned in the indictment.
In her motion to reconsider, Sacco-Miller writes that the importance in those statements lies in that Welling intended to kill someone that night; he just happened to knock on the wrong door.
Sacco-Miller cites an Illinois case that decided a person can be found guilty of murdering someone, even if the defendant intended to kill someone else.
The Daniels' home was apparently similar in appearance, and within a block of the home of someone Welling had argued with earlier in the night, Sacco-Miller said.
In Sacco-Miller's motion, she writes that the statements made to the men "prove the defendant's state of mind at the time of Delmar Daniels' murder."
According to court documents:
About 7 p.m. July 18, 2012, paramedics responded to a call at a home in Amboy where they found Daniels lying in a pool of blood around his body and neck, with bloody footprints on the floor leading outside the home. Daniels’ wife was pinned against the wall, under her wheelchair scooter.
She told police that about 2 a.m., a blond man knocked on the door, which her husband opened. The two struggled, and the man stabbed Daniels with a pair of scissors.
A black shirt, a pair of black flip-flops, and a black string necklace with a small metallic urn engraved “Alan M Welling 1977-2002” were found at the house.
Authorities say that during questioning, Welling admitted he had been drinking at an Amboy bar and to being at a home with a man and remembered a lot of blood early on the morning of July 18. Welling said he ran, losing his black shirt, black flip-flops, and black string necklace with his brother’s ashes.
Welling is charged with five counts of first-degree murder and two counts of home invasion. He remains in Lee County Jail on a $2 million bond, with his trial set to begin May 13.