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Crime & Courts

Andersen trial date set for July 9

Murder suspect to face 65 prosecution witnesses

Attorneys for Clifford A. Andersen Jr. argued against a continuance request from the prosecution, as well as the admission of video evidence, during the murder suspect's hearing Thursday in Putnam County Circuit Court.

Andersen, 67, of Standard, is charged with murdering his sister-in-law, Deborah Dewey, and concealing her body. Dewey, 62, of Ladd, was reported missing in August 2016.

Her body was found on Sept. 12, 2016, in a shallow grave in a yard of a Standard home for which Andersen was caretaker. Police were alerted to the property following an interview with a person who had knowledge about the case. One day after Dewey's body was found in Standard, police arrested Andersen.

The prosecution made the continuance request to Judge Stephen Kouri during a previous conference call during, which both sides had agreed to waive the need for Andersen's presence. The request was made because new evidence continues to arrive from investigators, and the defense argued for Andersen's right to a speedy trial.

Assistant Illinois Attorney General Bill Elward countered that all previously granted continuances had been agreed upon by both sides and that made the speedy trial issue not yet relevant.

Kouri granted the request after saying it would be best for both sides to not have to be in a rush to be prepared, and he set the date for a financial evidence motions hearing for Monday, May 7.

Andersen's lawyers, Drew Parker and his son, Robert Parker, of Peoria's Parker and Parker Law Firm, also argued against the admission of video evidence Elward said showed Andersen driving Dewey's car into a truck stop. He also said Andersen intentionally left Dewey's car unlocked and with the keys in the ignition with hopes it would be stolen.

Elward also said Andersen then lied to police and others about his whereabouts and actions. During Elward's description of the contents of the video and Andersen's behavior, Andersen smiled and shook his head in disagreement. Andersen also was smiling as he passed by Dewey's family as he left the courtroom following the hearing.

Dewey’s gray 2007 Buick LaCrosse was found unlocked on Aug. 29, 2016, at the TA Truck Stop on state Route 47, just north of Interstate 80, in Morris. There's also evidence showing the last calls made on Dewey's phone were to Andersen.

After the hearing, Robert Parker said the resolution of the video was too grainy to show anything definitive. Parker also said the financial evidence the defense wants to use is obtuse and doesn't establish a motive. He added the reasons given by the prosecution for the continuance requests were for "the vague reason of the arrival of additional evidence."

"More evidence is always good," Putnam County State's Attorney Christina Judd-Mennie said of the continuing arrival of supportive information.

It also came to the court's attention during the hearing Andersen hadn't been able to fully hear what was being said during his court appearances.

"I don't want an appeal because of a hearing issue," Kouri said to the defense.

He then placed responsibility for getting Andersen hearing assistance on his attorneys. Amplified headphones will be the likely remedy.

Parker also said the state will be calling 65 witnesses against Andersen and added Andersen's health won't be used in their defense arguments.

Kouri set the date for jury selection to begin on July 9 and blocked off two weeks for the trial. In the event there's difficulty in selecting a local jury, Kouri said he would try to have a backup venue available in Peoria, and both sides agreed with the prudence of that decision.

Andersen remains jailed on a $150,000 cash bond. 

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