Jury trial on health debated in homicide case

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Published 6:10 p.m. CST, Thursday March 4, 2021

  • Dustin Finlaw is charged with first degree murder in the murder of Robert L. Utter, 42, of Rushville, who was found dead in a car in Meredosia on May 24, 2018.

    Dustin Finlaw is charged with first degree murder in the murder of Robert L. Utter, 42, of Rushville, who was found dead in a car in Meredosia on May 24, 2018.

    Photo: Journal Courier

Dustin Finlaw is charged with first degree murder in the murder of Robert L. Utter, 42, of Rushville, who was found dead in a car in Meredosia on May 24, 2018.

Dustin Finlaw is charged with first degree murder in the murder of Robert L. Utter, 42, of Rushville, who was found dead in a car in Meredosia on May 24, 2018.

Photo: Journal Courier

Lawsuits over fitness in murder case discussed

An attorney for a Meredosia man charged with murder has filed a motion demanding a jury trial on fitness, although the courts are currently questioning whether it is appropriate.

Attorney Tom Piper filed a petition in the Morgan County Courts on February 26, calling for a trial against Dustin A. Finlaw, 20, of Meredosia, who was ruled incapable of standing in October 2018.

During a status hearing on Thursday, Judge Chris Reif asked prosecutors Gray Noll and Piper whether this was the right approach at the moment and whether Finlaw could decide for himself whether he wanted a jury or a bank trial on the matter.

“Attorney Piper filed the motion at the request of a jury himself, not at the request of his client,” said Noll. “We have until Tuesday to check whether at this point: A, he is entitled to a lawsuit, and B, if he has previously been found unsuitable, he can waive that right and ask a bank to try. “

Reif expressed his desire to move the process forward.

Finlaw was found fit by the Illinois Department of Human Services in October 2019.

Piper has since said that based on conversations with his client, he believes Finlaw will remain unfit.

A psychiatrist hired through Piper evaluated Finlaw and found he was unfit.

Finlaw was also re-evaluated by a government-employed psychiatrist.

Finlaw is charged with the murder of Robert L. Utter, 42, from Rushville, who was found dead in a car in Meredosia on May 24, 2018. Finlaw is also charged with grievous bodily harm to two police officers who resist arrest and obstruct justice / destroy evidence.

A status hearing is planned for Tuesday at 1.30 p.m. to determine whether fitness will be determined by a bench or jury process. If this is to be determined through a banking process, a fitness hearing will be held on March 25th. If a trial is scheduled, it will take place in April.