Defense attorney asks for, gets another continuance in double-homicide case in Ogle County

Duane Meyer appeared in Ogle County courtroom on Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2023 for a status hearing.

OREGON – The defense attorney for a Stillman Valley man charged with killing his ex-wife and their 3-year-old son in 2016 told an Ogle County judge Tuesday that he needs more time for his expert to evaluate forensic evidence.

“We are moving this along as quickly as I can,” defense attorney Christopher DeRango of Rockford told Ogle County Judge John “Ben” Roe. “After discussion with our expert, additional information is needed.”

Duane Meyer, 41, is 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, Byron house fire in which Margaret “Maggie” (Rosko) Meyer, 31, was found dead and their son, 3-year-old Amos Meyer, died.

Roe set the next court date for 9 a.m. Nov. 6. He told DeRango that any discovery between the defense and prosecutors needs to be “worked out in the meantime”.

“Trust me, I’m trying to move this ahead as quickly as I can,” replied DeRango.

In January, DeRango entered 21 motions in limine and asked that they be sealed prior to debate in open court.

During a May 4 hearing, DeRango asked Roe to exclude information gathered by the prosecution from being presented to a jury arguing some of it was “irrelevant” or would be “prejudicial” to his client.

The purpose of a motion in limine (Latin for “on the threshold”) is to determine whether certain evidence may be presented to the jury.

Motions in limine are commonly entered and argued before a trial begins, allowing evidentiary questions to be decided by the judge. The motions are made by attorneys when seeking to exclude certain evidence from being presented to a jury.

Some of the motions made pertain to crime scene photos, autopsy photos, internet searches, cellphone photos, text messages between Meyer and others, surveillance videos of vehicles and comments made to police officers during the investigation.

Assistant State’s Attorney Matthew Leisten argued that the evidence was relevant and, based on case law, should be allowed, adding that “the jury can weigh the evidence”.

DeRango said there were 6,000 pages of discovery and over 1,000 text messages between Meyer and a friend prior to the deaths. He said the messages were made in the midst of a “contentious divorce” and, he argued, some of the messages were taken out of context and should not be allowed as evidence.

Leisten disagreed, arguing that the messages showed it was a “planned homicide” and showed “what was going on in the defendant’s mind”.

Roe has yet to rule on all the motions in limine.

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

Tuesday’s hearing was one of many since murder charges were filed in October 2019.

In November 2022, Roe ruled that Duane Meyer’s cellphone records would be allowed as evidence at the trial.

Meyer remains in the Ogle County Correctional Center on a $10 million bond.

Earleen Hinton

Earleen Hinton

Earleen creates content and oversees production of 8 community weeklies. She has worked for Shaw Newspapers since 1985.