Trial for suspect David Fields, accused in the Dec. 30, 2016 murder of Carl Silas, could take place this spring.
Lawyers appearing for Fields and the state reached a tentative agreement for possible dates in May or June after St. Clair County Circuit Judge Robert Haida pressed them for a commitment.
At a status hearing this afternoon, Haida said he has been fairly flexible given the schedules of lead defense attorney Brittany Kimble of the Chicago area and special prosecutor Charles Colburn of Springfield.
"We're getting to the point where we need to press for a date to bring this to trial," he said.
Having spent more than a year in county jail, Fields, shackled and wearing inmate orange, was in court Wednesday where Haida declared him indigent on a motion brought by his attorneys.
Fields' co-counsel Ryan Neal of Creve Coeur, Mo. told Haida the legal defense team sought declaration of indigency because payment that had been coming from family members has dried up.
With the county picking up the legal defense tab going forward, Haida told Neal to specifically identify amounts and explanations for pretrial and trial expenses, as it will not be a "blank check."
Haida set another status hearing at 1:30 p.m. on Jan. 30. He also ordered two additional court hearings be held prior to trial to resolve discovery issues and pre-trial motions.
During a hearing last September, at which Kimble appeared, she said she had received discovery from prosecutors two times since being told she had received all of it. Neal said at today's hearing that defense has continued to receive files from prosecutors.
Colburn said his office has received major case squad investigative reports "piece meal."
Haida, who indicated he would grant a subpoena of a sheriff's investigator, said that in his experience with major case squads it is almost "unavoidable" that some things do not get where they're supposed to be by mistake.
"There's so much paperwork produced with the Major Case Squad," Haida said.
According to prosecutors, Fields allegedly killed Silas at a Belleville apartment around 5 a.m. on Dec. 30. Witnesses said Fields and another man forced entry. Investigators for Sheriff Rick Watson have not arrested anyone but Fields.
Special prosecutors have pursued an allegation that Circuit Judge Ron Duebbert obstructed the investigation, but they have not charged him.
They brought Duebbert before a grand jury in July, but no indictment resulted.