Judge denies defense request for more detail on phone records in 2016 double-murder case

Duane Meyer enters an Ogle County courtroom for a June 18, 2024 hearing.

OREGON — An Ogle County judge has denied a Stillman Valley man’s motion seeking more detail on what a state witness has to say about phone records that could be used at his trial.

Duane Meyer, 42, is charged with killing his ex-wife in 2016. His attorney Christopher DeRango, of Rockford, argued in May that an expert witness for the prosecution who is expected to testify needs to provide more information to the defense before taking the stand.

Meyer 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. The couple’s son, 3-year-old Amos Meyer, also was home at the time of the fire and later died. Murder charges against Duane Meyer were filed in October 2019.

DeRango sought additional disclosure, including a written summary of testimony that he believes prosecutors intend to use from FBI analyst Joseph Raschke, who analyzed cellphone data before the fire.

DeRango told Judge John “Ben” Roe at a May hearing that slides in PowerPoint presentations given to the defense were too general and needed to be more specific. And he argued that Raschke had not provided a written report on his findings.

DeRango said there were “thousands of pages of discovery” and it was “impossible” to know what the state’s expert would say about the slides because Raschke had not done a written report explaining how he reached his conclusions.

Ogle County Assistant State’s Attorney Matthew Leisten argued that Raschke’s slides should be sufficient for the defense, arguing that Raschke’s slides were in his report and he was not required to provide “some type of narrative for the defense”.

Leisten said Raschke will be testifying about Meyer’s cellphone data and how it relates to cell towers in the area. He said case law only mandates that prosecutors provide a “gist” of what an expert will testify to at trial. He said DeRango would have the opportunity to cross examine Raschke at the trial.

Roe agreed and in his June 18 written order denied the defense motion.

“The state has met all the requirements of the Illinois Supreme Court rules governing discovery,” Roe wrote in his decision. “After reviewing the evidence presented at the hearing, the court finds that Agent Raschke’s testimony is not for the truth of the matter asserted. The testimony deals with the science of cell phone towers and how calls are connected to one another in a given location.

“The state has tendered to the defendant the name of the expert and a general outline of his expected testimony,” Roe continued. “Further, the defendant will have the opportunity to cross examine Agent Raschke at trial. Additionally, defense counsel may object at the trial if they believe the state has failed to adequately lay a foundation for Agent Raschke’s testimony as an expert.”

Maggie (Rosko) Meyer was a teacher at the Chana Education Center at the time of her death. She filed for divorce in 2014, and court records show that the divorce was finalized in September 2016.

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

At a September 2022 hearing, Leisten said Raschke was a member of the FBI’s cellular analyst support team and had “plotted the estimated locations” of Meyer’s cellphone using methods he had employed in hundreds of cases.

Such analytical evidence has been allowed in state and federal courts for well over a decade, and Raschke has testified multiple times as an expert in cell-site analysis, despite defense objections, Leisten said.

Meyer remains at the Ogle County Correctional Center on a $10 million bond. His next status hearing is 2 p.m. July 10.

A trial date has not yet been set.

Margaret “Maggie” (Rosko) Meyer and Amos Meyer
Earleen Hinton

Earleen Hinton

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