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Prisoner prefers Dixon: Man accused of murder requests transfer from Bureau County Jail

Eddie L. Mentgen Jr., 37, is escorted to the Bureau County Courthouse on Friday morning. The Spring Valley man accused of murdering his girlfriend in April will be transferred from the Bureau County Jail to the Dixon Correctional Center until his arraignment July 15.
Eddie L. Mentgen Jr., 37, is escorted to the Bureau County Courthouse on Friday morning. The Spring Valley man accused of murdering his girlfriend in April will be transferred from the Bureau County Jail to the Dixon Correctional Center until his arraignment July 15.

PRINCETON – The Spring Valley man accused of murdering his girlfriend wants to defend himself in court, and he thinks he’ll have a better chance of doing it if he’s housed at the Dixon prison until his arraignment.

A judge on Friday granted Eddie L. Mentgen Jr.’s motion to be transferred from Bureau County Jail to the Dixon Correctional Center, a day after he was charged with one count of first-degree murder in Bureau County Circuit Court and he was remanded to the Bureau County Jail on a $5 million bond. Mentgen filed the motion Wednesday.

Mentgen, 37, is accused of killing Marissa Roberts, 27, a mother of three who was found dead in her Spring Valley apartment April 5. Authorities say Mentgen hit her on the head with a hammer.

During Friday’s hearing, Bureau County Circuit Judge C.J. Hollerich said he was concerned that the transfer would put Mentgen farther away from his attorney, Bureau County Assistant Public Defender Brad Popurella.

Mentgen said shortly after the murder charge was filed that he wanted to represent himself in the case, and that being transferred to Dixon would allow him access to a law library and a 24-hour phone, which he plans to use to do legwork for his own case.

Hollerich urged him Friday not to make the move, saying he wondered whether Mentgen’s decision to represent himself was too hasty.

Popurella, who is still representing Mentgen, supported his motion, saying that a trial date had not been set yet and that discovery in the case would not be presented until the grand jury hearing, which will take place on July 15 before the arraignment.

Popurella asked that Mentgen be transferred to Dixon for 30 days to gather his affairs and be near resources needed to begin working on discovery in the case, such as talking to witnesses via telephone.

Bureau County State’s Attorney Geno Caffarini objected to the motion, arguing the move would take up state resources to transfer Mentgen back and forth between Dixon and Princeton for court hearings, and for Popurella to have to drive back and forth to meet with Mentgen.

Popurella pointed out that because he’s on a salary, it would not cost the state more money, and he assured the court that communication with Mentgen had been satisfactory via mail and telephone.

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