No trial Monday for suspect in Sheridan killings

Fredres agrees to indefinite postponement because of COVID

A Sandwich man accused of killing his former in-laws in their Sheridan home will not stand trial Monday — thanks to the latest surge in COVID-19.

Donald Fredres, 38, was previously found fit to stand trial and set for Jan. 10. However, the virus presently is surging and that presents potential issues with seating a jury and calling witnesses, some 30 of them by the state’s count.

Friday, prosecutor Greg Sticka and Ottawa defense attorney Ryan Hamer advised the court they mutually agreed to a continuance.

Hamer further noted he’d discussed it with Fredres and “there are several concerns with respect to COVID that could hinder our case, as well.”

Chief Judge H. Chris Ryan Jr. canceled Monday’s trial setting and set a Jan. 13 status hearing for him and the lawyers to revisit whether infection controls will permit the trial to proceed.

Fredres faces multiple felonies led by first-degree murder for the shooting deaths of Gregory S. Barnes Sr. and Brenda J. Barnes, both 62, his former in-laws. If convicted of the two murders he faces an automatic sentence of life in prison. (Illinois abolished the death penalty in 2011.)

Fredres also faces two companion charges for trying to kill his ex-wife, who sustained minor injuries when Fredres fired a gun into her front door, according to prosecutors.

Gregory and Brenda Barnes were slain March 16 and the ensuing search for their former son-in-law spilled into St. Patrick’s Day. He has been held on $5 million bond since his apprehension.

Earlier in the case, Fredres was evaluated for fitness (that is, the ability to assist one’s lawyers at trial) and sanity at the time of the offense. While mental health records are sealed, it became clear at subsequent hearings Fredres was deemed fit and sane.