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Lee County judge: Evidence of threats allowed

Welling's statements had been ruled inadmissible

DIXON – A Lee County judge Monday reversed his earlier ruling and decided to allow as evidence a murder defendant’s threats to kill – even though they were not made against the victim.

Matthew W. Welling, 33, is charged with first-degree murder in the stabbing death of Delmar Daniels at his Amboy home on July 18, 2012.

Welling is said to have made threats against others on the night Daniels was killed. Judge Ron Jacobson had previously ruled that evidence inadmissible since the threats were not made against Daniels.

The judge had earlier granted the request of Welling’s defense attorney, Public Defender Bob Thompson, to exclude the threats. But he overturned his decision Monday after Lee County State’s Attorney Anna Sacco-Miller filed a motion for the court to reconsider whether she should be able to present evidence during trial that refers to Welling’s threats to kill two men, which he made during a fight that happened just hours before Daniels was killed.

Judge Jacobson originally decided to bar those statements at trial because the defendant is not charged with killing either of the men, and neither is mentioned in the criminal charge against him.

In her motion, Sacco-Miller wrote that the importance in Welling’s statements is that Welling intended to kill someone that night; he just happened to knock on the wrong door.

Daniels’ home was apparently similar in appearance, and within a block of the home of one of the men Welling had argued with earlier in the night, Sacco-Miller said.

She cited an Illinois case that decided a person can be found guilty of murdering someone, even if the defendant had intended to kill someone else.

In her motion, she wrote that the statements made to the men “prove the defendant’s state of mind at the time of Delmar Daniels’ murder.”

Jacobson said his rationale for overturning his previous decision was based on just that.

“Upon further reflection, what’s clear to me is that those statements provide a context for the incident that occurred,” Jacobson said.

He said the fact that Welling was familiar with one of the houses, and that it was close to Daniels, home, made the statements sufficiently important to be admitted as evidence.

Also on Monday, Jacobson decided to allow a text message allegedly sent by Welling, shortly after Daniels was attacked, saying “I [expletive] up.”

Both parties also agreed to a defense motion to bar a past misdemeanor battery conviction from being admitted as evidence.

As Thompson argued last week regarding the conviction: “The state cannot use a misdemeanor to prove a murder. There’s nothing related here.”

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. His final pretrial conference has been set for 10 a.m. April 24.

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