As expected, neither of La Salle County’s pending murder trials will go before a jury in 2021.
Donald Fredres, 38, of Sandwich appeared Thursday for a status hearing and left with a Jan. 10 trial date for allegedly killing his former in-laws in Sheridan. Fredres recently was found fit for trial and, Thursday, attorneys advised Chief Judge H. Chris Ryan Jr. request a trial setting the second Monday of the New Year.
Fredres faces automatic life in prison if convicted of the March 16 shooting deaths of his former in-laws Gregory S. Barnes Sr. and Brenda J. Barnes, both 62. He faces additional charges for allegedly firing into the door of ex-wife’s home, injuring her.
Across the hall, Judge Cynthia M. Raccuglia set a Feb. 14 jury trial for 30-year-old Michael Swift of Mokena, who is accused of fatally stabbing Grace Taylor, his estranged girlfriend, in her apartment in Ottawa. Swift could face 20-60 years if convicted.
Though the homicides were committed in spring and both suspects have been in custody at least six months, neither case was deemed likely to proceed this year. Mental health questions were raised in both cases and, by law, a suspect cannot stand trial unless found to have the faculties to assist defense lawyers at trial.