March motion hearing set for Stillman Valley man accused of killing ex-wife and son in 2016

Duane Meyer is escorted into an Ogle County courtroom on Tuesday for a status hearing. He is charged with killing his ex-wife, Maggie Rosko, and their 3-year-old son, Amos.

OREGON — A Stillman Valley man charged with killing his ex-wife and their 3-year-old son in 2016 will appear in court again March 20 for a hearing to determine what evidence will be allowed at trial.

Duane Meyer, 40, of Stillman Valley, appeared in Ogle County court Tuesday for a status hearing. He is in the Ogle County Correctional Center on $10 million bond, charged with four counts of first-degree murder, two counts of aggravated arson and one count of concealment of a homicidal death in connection with the Oct. 19, 2016, house fire in Byron which Maggie (Rosko) Meyer, 31, was found dead and their son, 3-year-old Amos Meyer, died.

Ogle County Judge Jobn “Ben” Roe set a motion hearing date for March 20 after requests from defense attorney Christopher DeRango of Rockford and Assistant State’s Attorney Matthew Leisten.

DeRango said his 20 motions in limine would take several hours to address.

“This may take a half of day to address,” DeRango said.

DeRango said a potential witness list shared by Leisten with the defense had also been received.

Leisten filed 5 motions for the prosecution.

Motions in limine are made by attorneys when seeking to exclude certain evidence from being presented to a jury. Some of the motions include crime scene photos and cell phone records.

Roe agreed that the motions would be sealed until the March hearing and asked both attorneys when they thought they’d be ready to go to trial.

“We need to set at trial date at some point,” said Roe.

DeRango said he would prefer to wait to set a trial date until after the March motion hearing.

“I’d prefer to wait until after the motions are heard,” DeRango said.

He also told Roe that he was having “difficulty” when trying to meet with Meyer while he was in custody. Roe acknowledged DeRango’s comment and said officials were working on resolving that issue.

Maggie, a teacher at the Chana Education Center, filed for divorce in 2014. Court records show the divorce was finalized in September 2016.

Tuesday’s continuance is one of several since the murder charges were filed in October 2019.

In November 2022, Roe ruled that cell phone records made by Meyer would be allowed as evidence at the trial.

Meyer had told investigators he was not in Byron on Oct. 18, 2016 but FBI analyst Joseph Rascke had cellphone tower data that shows otherwise, the prosecution said.

Meyer said he arrived at the home about 6:30 that morning to pick up Amos. He found the house on fire, grabbed Amos from a room upstairs and tried to resuscitate him on the front lawn; the boy was pronounced dead a short time later at a Rockford hospital. Maggie’s body was found on a couch on the first floor.

According to the prosecution, data on Meyer’s phone showed it was hitting off the cell tower on Barker Road in Byron from 5 p.m. to about 10:30 p.m. on Oct. 18. After that, it was sending a signal to the cell tower on East Hales Corner Road in Stillman Valley.

At 11 a.m. the next day, on Oct. 19, a detective spoke to Meyer at his parents’ house on East Hales Corner Road in Byron. Meyer told the detective that he was at his family’s farm in Chana until 11 a.m. on Oct. 18, then went to his home in Stillman Valley. He said he left around 5 p.m. to go bow-hunting on the farm.

He was in Chana until about 9 p.m., then went back to his Stillman Valley home, were he stayed until about 6 a.m. the next morning, when he left to pick up Amos. Chana is outside the Barker Road tower coverage area.

The prosecution argued to introduce maps and testimony by Rascke, a member of the FBI’s cellular analyst support team, who “plotted the estimated locations” of Meyer’s cellphone on Oct. 18 and 19, using methods he has employed in hundreds of cases.

Such analytical evidence has been allowed in state and federal courts for well over a decade, and Rascke has testified multiple times as an expert in cell-site analysis, despite defense objections, Leisten told Roe in a previous hearing,

DeRango had argued that the cell phone records Rascke used were “Palmer records,” or records that were prepared by a company, in this case, Verizon, for the sole purpose of litigation, not records created during the normal course of business for reasons that benefit the business.

Roe disagreed.

The March 20 hearing is set for 9 a.m. in courtroom 302.

(Kathleen Schultz contributed to this story)

Maggie and Amos Meyer
Duane Meyer is escorted into an Ogle County courtroom on Tuesday for a status hearing. He is charged with killing his ex-wife, Maggie Rosko, and their 3-year-old son, Amos.
Duane Meyer is escorted into an Ogle County courtroom on Tuesday for a status hearing. He is charged with killing his ex-wife, Maggie Rosko, and their 3-year-old son, Amos.

Earleen Hinton

Earleen oversees production and content of 9 community weeklies and has worked for Shaw Newspapers since 1985.