DIXON – Twenty-two months after a 79-year-old Amboy man was stabbed in his home with a pair of scissors, then beaten to death, the man accused of cutting his life short is set to begin trial.
Matthew W. Welling, 33, is charged with five counts of first-degree murder and two counts of home invasion in connection with the death of Delmar “Leroy” Daniels, killed July 18, 2012. His wife, Betty, was found next to his body, pinned against the wall and under her wheelchair scooter.
Jury selection begins Tuesday in Lee County Judge Ron Jacobson’s courtroom. Testimony likely will begin sometime Wednesday, or maybe Thursday. There will be no court Friday -- the judge will be at an out-of-town conference -- and testimony will resume Monday. Although it’s impossible to say for sure, the trial is expected to wrap up that week.
Each of the five first-degree murder counts come with varying elements of the crime that must be proven, which gives the jury a choice when deciding whether to convict, and for what.
Count one says Welling intended to kill Daniels; count two says he intended to do great bodily harm to Daniels; count three says he knew striking Daniels on the head would kill him; count four says he knew striking him would create the strong probability of death or great bodily harm; and count five says Welling killed Daniels during the course of a forcible felony, i.e. home invasion.
One count of home invasion pertains to Daniels, the other to his wife.
Welling has been in Lee County Jail since his arrest 2 days after the killing. His bond is set at $2 million.
His attorney is Public Defender Bob Thompson. Lee County State’s Attorney Anna Sacco-Miller is the prosecutor.
According to court records, paramedics responding to a call around 7 p.m. that night found Daniels lying in a pool of blood, and bloody footprints leading outside the home. His wife told police that about 2 a.m., a blond man knocked on their door, and her husband opened it. The two struggled, and the man stabbed Daniels with a pair of scissors.
Daniels died, however, after being struck “on and about the head,” records show.
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. Alan Welling was Matthew’s brother.
During his interview, Welling, whose face, hands and legs were bloodied, admitted that he had been drinking at an Amboy bar, and that he remembered being at a home with a man, and a lot of blood, police said.
He said he ran, losing his black shirt, black flip-flops, and black string necklace with his brother’s ashes.
Welling also told witnesses that he woke up after a night of drinking, and remembered beating an elderly man unconscious, police said.
He also is said to have threatened to kill two men during a fight hours before Daniels was killed.
In a motion to get those threats allowed as evidence, which Jacobson eventually granted, Sacco-Miller said they show that Welling intended to kill someone that night; he just happened to knock on the wrong door. The Daniels home apparently was similar in appearance to – and within a block of – the home of one of the men Welling fought with, she said.
She cited an Illinois case in which it was decided that a person can be found guilty of murder, even if the intended victim was someone else. Welling’s statements “prove the defendant’s state of mind at the time of Delmar Daniels’ murder,” she said in her motion.
Also to be presented as evidence is a text message Welling is said to have sent shortly after Daniels was attacked, saying “I [expletive] up.”
In December 2012, Thompson notified the court that he may use self-defense as a defense for his client.