Trial to move forward for teen charged with ISU student's New Year's murder
HANCOCK COUNTY, Ill. (WGEM) - Probable cause was found during a preliminary hearing in Hancock County Circuit Court Tuesday against Antonio Sanchez, 17, for killing Madison Finch at a New Year's Eve party in La Harpe, Illinois.
Sanchez was charged with three counts of First Degree Murder and one count of Aggravated Battery with a Weapon. He entered a not guilty plea on all charges.
The court made decisions on two motions filed. The first was about Sanchez being shackled during the court proceedings. The court agreed to have ankles cuffed, but not hands.
The other motion was about the fitness test on whether Sanchez could stand trial. Defense Attorney Drew Schnack said his client had “borderline intellectual function” which means it takes him up to four minutes to process things. He also said he has only finished 9th grade.
During the preliminary hearing, the state called Illinois State Police Investigating Agent Matt Poulter to the stand. Poulter testified that there were several altercations at the New Year’s Eve party held at the Finch residence. He said Sanchez shot Maddie Finch in the head at 1:32 a.m. on January 1.
Poulter said at least two shots were fired, some witnesses say three. A lot of his information came from a man who call Hancock County 911. He testified that there were more than 40 people at the party.
Poulter said Sanchez shot Finch with a 22 caliber semi-automatic pistol and the muzzle of the gun was pressed up against the back of her head when the shots were fired. He said a fight before the shooting brought them both to the floor at the time of the shooting.
Poulter testified that Sanchez was arrested at the city water treatment facility at 7 a.m. He was bloodied and wasn’t wearing socks. He also broke into the building, but Poulter said he did not fight police and was very cooperative when being taken into custody.
In cross-examination, Poulter testified that alcohol and marijuana were being used and some of the witness testimony was with people under the influence. He said the witnesses were not tested for their BAC levels or what substances they were using.
Poulter said the witnesses at the party used Facebook and other pictures to identify the defendant to police. Lab results showed that the defendant's hand prints were on the gun and it matched the tests.
The judge read the charges again to the defendant and documents and information were given to the defense from the state. A pre-trial conference is scheduled for June 5 at 1:30 p.m. with more motions to be decided upon. There will be a jury trial after that, possibly in July.
Under Illinois law, a 17-year-old charged with First Degree Murder is automatically tried as an adult.