DIXON – A “projectile” yet to be retrieved from a Dixon High soccer goal has delayed the trial of school shooter Matthew A. Milby Jr.
The trial was set to begin April 8 in Lee County Court. Jury questionnaires are in the works and a flurry of witness subpoenas have been served, but because the potential ballistics evidence is not available, the date was vacated and the defense was granted more time.
Once the “expected extrication” of the projectile is complete, he might want to have it and other evidence examined by his ballistics consultant “well before any trial was to begin,” Milby’s attorney, Thomas D. Murray of Dixon, said in his motion for a continuance.
In addition, his consultant is unavailable most of this month, Murray said in his motion, which was filed and granted March 5 with no objection from State’s Attorney Matthew Klahn.
A hearing on the status of the extraction and examination is set for April 5.
The trial, which is estimated to take about 2 weeks, has not been rescheduled.
At a hearing March 1 at which Milby’s fitness to stand trial was affirmed, Klahn also said the state has made an offer to settle the case. The terms of the offer won’t be made public unless and until Milby accepts it in open court.
Investigators say Milby, then a DHS senior, took a 9mm semi-automatic rifle to graduation practice in the Lancaster Gym the morning of May 16, fired at gym teacher Andrew McKay, whom he encountered in a hallway, and fled seconds later when confronted and pursued by Dixon PD school resource officer Mark Dallas.
Milby fired at Dallas outside the gym; Dallas returned fire, hitting Milby in the upper shoulder and hip. Milby was arrested near his car in Page Park. No one else was injured.
No motive for the shooting has been made public, nor has there been any indication who, if anyone, Milby was targeting that day.
He is charged with two counts of attempted murder and four counts involving aggravated discharge of a firearm. The charge involving Dallas carries 20 to 80 years in prison, with a potential 20-year enhancement; the other carries 6 to 30 years in prison, plus 20 years. The first two counts of aggravated discharge of a firearm carry 10 to 45 years; the other two 6 to 30 years. All require him to serve at least 85 percent.
He is in Lee County Jail on $2 million bond.
His attorney sought to have him declared unfit to stand trial after Milby developed an eating disorder that prompted jail officials to hospitalize him so he could be force-fed.
According to Murray, Milby is severely depressed and has odd and delusional thoughts surrounding food – he has decided to eat as little as possible in an effort to make his body process food in the most efficient way possible.
Several months of such fasting and a refusal to take medical treatment while in jail lead to potentially life-threatening weight loss, as well as fatigue and an inability to concentrate, which Murray said would inhibit his ability to assist in his own defense.
Forensic psychologist James “Matthew” Finn interviewed Milby Feb. 23 in his Rockford hospital room and testified at the hearing that despite a variety of mental, emotional and physical issues, Milby was able to understand and participate in court proceedings.
Judge Charles Beckman agreed, and ruled him fit.
Milby also is charged with two counts of aggravated battery and one of misdemeanor battery after investigators say he got into a brawl Aug. 31 with two other Lee County Jail inmates, climbed onto the back of one and tried to strangle him, and struck another. Neither of them were charged.
The felony is punishable by 2 to 5 years in prison on each count.
The cases are being heard concurrently.