MT. VERNON — Murder suspect Timothy S. Newell pleaded innocent to first-degree murder charges during his arraignment on Tuesday in Jefferson Circuit Court.
Newell, 43, of Bonnie, was charged with four counts of first-degree murder in the beating and stabbing death of 84-year-old Rita “Betty” Newell of Bonnie. The younger Newell is the adopted grandson of the victim. Newell is also charged with stealing the woman’s station wagon which he used to flee from the murder scene on Oct. 3.
Led into court in a jail-issued red jumpsuit, Newell sat in a jury box while his attorney, Public Defender Sean Featherstun, entered the not guilty pleas on behalf of his client.
State’s Attorney Doug Hoffman requested DNA testing of Newell — a mouth swab and hair sample — be taken within seven days at the Jefferson County Jail, where Newell is being held under $5 million bond. Featherstun did not object to the request.
Judge Thomas Dinn also accepted preliminary trial dates. A pre-trial conference will be held at 9:30 a.m. Dec. 3, a final pre-trial conference at 9:30 a.m. Jan. 7 and a jury trial date of 9 a.m. Jan. 14.
Featherstun had orally requested Newell be examined by Dr. Angeline Stanislaus to determine fitness, but Dinn asked Featherstun to put the request in writing. The judge ordered the defendant back in court at 9 a.m. today to act on the motion.
The four counts of first-degree murder allege the defendant stabbed Rita Newell in the neck with a knife and “struck her about her person, thereby causing the death of Rita Newell, a person 60 years of age or older, and her death resulted from exceptionally brutal or heinous behavior indicative of wanton cruelty.”
Local authorities received a call on the morning of Oct. 3, requesting a well-being check on Rita Newell. Authorities discovered her body deceased at her Bonnie residence. Through an investigation, authorities were able to collect enough information to identify Timothy Newell as a suspect in the homicide. He was arrested in Missouri and extradited.
Online court records reveal Newell has an extensive criminal record in Kane County. Newell is originally from the Aurora area but was living with the victim at the time of the incident.