DIXON – Today marks what is likely the final chapter in one of the bloodiest crimes in Amboy’s history.
Matthew Welling, convicted May 19 of five counts of first-degree murder and one count of home invasion, will be sentenced at 1:30 p.m. in the Lee County courtroom of Judge Ron Jacobson.
The 34-year-old Amboy man, who has no previous criminal record, faces 26 to 180 years in prison for stabbing and beating Delmar “Leroy” Daniels, 79, in the early hours of July 18, 2012.
The autopsy showed Daniels had a broken jaw, broken ribs, a broken nose, and more than 30 cuts and stabs to his head alone. He bled to death from a deep slash to the back of his neck. The murder weapon was a broken glass vase.
After 4 days of testimony, with the defense calling no witnesses, it took the eight men and four women in the jury about an hour to convict Welling.
He will be required to serve the full term for murder, and at least 85 percent of the sentence for home invasion.
Lee County Assistant State’s Attorney Peter Buh is the prosecutor; Lee County Public Defender Bob Thompson represents Welling.
According to testimony and police investigators, Daniels answered a knock at 2 that morning and opened the door to Welling, who earlier in the night had threatened to kill another man he’d just met in an Amboy bar, over a woman he also had just met. Daniels lived near that man, and in a home that looked similar.
Welling, who had 10 or so beers and several shots in about 3 hours that night, was angry and drunk, went to the wrong house and committed “a rage murder,” Buh said.
He left behind his DNA, his fingerprints, his broken flip-flops and a necklace that held a vial of his brother’s ashes, engraved with his brother’s name. His state ID was found nearby.
During an interview after his arrest, Welling told police he woke up the day after Daniels was killed “covered in blood.” He said he did not remember killing him.
That, his attorney argued, showed that Welling lacked the intent to kill, which he said was required for the state to prove first-degree murder.
The jury disagreed.