OREGON – An Ogle County judge agreed to continue a pretrial hearing to March for a Malta man charged with killing a Mt. Morris woman and her unborn son in November 2020.
Matthew T. Plote, 35, of Malta appeared in court Jan. 19 with his defense attorney, John R. Kopp of Geneva, in front of Judge John “Ben” Roe.
Plote is charged with killing Melissa Lamesch, 27, of Mt. Morris and her unborn son on Nov. 25, 2020, and then setting fire to her house to conceal their deaths.
Lamesch’s baby was due Nov. 27.
Plote faces four counts of first-degree murder, three of intentional homicide of an unborn child and one each of residential arson, aggravated domestic battery and concealment of a homicidal death.
Thursday’s hearing was continued last December after Kopp said he had yet to receive records regarding phone records and Lanesch’s medical records prior to her death.
On Thursday he said he was still waiting to receive that information as well as reports from two coroners who examined Lamesch following her death.
State’s Attorney Mike Rock said coroners from Peoria and Winnebago County examined Lamesch.
Assistant State’s Attorney Heather Kruse said the state was also seeking records from the eight fire departments that provided mutual aid to the Mt. Morris Fire Department on the night of the fire.
Judge Roe agreed to continue the hearing to March 1 for further status on the discovery items.
“For the record, the defense agrees with the continuance for today?,” asked Roe.
“Yes,” replied Kopp.
Plote has been in custody at the Ogle County Correctional Center since his March 8, 2022 arrest. He appeared in court wearing the standard orange jumpsuit and in handcuffs and leg irons. Two of his family members sat in one row of the courtroom’s public seating area while two of Lamesch’s family sat two rows behind them.
Lamesch was found about 4:30 p.m. after firefighters responded to 206 S. Hannah Ave. in Mt. Morris, where they encountered heavy smoke and blaring smoke detectors. She was found on the kitchen floor and pronounced dead at the scene, despite lifesaving measures.
She was a 2011 graduate of Oregon High School and an EMT at Trace Ambulance Service in Tinley Park.
Prosecutors have yet to offer a possible motive in the case, but have said Lamesch and Plote knew each other before the killings.