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Update: Suspect pleads not guilty in Meredosia homicide investigation

Suspect pleads not guilty in Meredosia murder investigation (WICS/WRSP)

During the preliminary hearing at the Morgan County court house, Dustin Finlaw plead not guilty to 5 second-class felony charges.

Those charges were brought forward during Robert Utter’s homicide investigation.

“The allegations are that Mr. Finlaw obstructed justice by attempting to destroy evidence that was being seized at that time by the Illinois State Police,” Morgan County Assistant State's Attorney, Chad Turner said.

The Morgan County State's Attorney, Gray Noll, confirmed that Finlaw also lied about his whereabouts regarding the day Utter was murdered.

If Finlaw is found guilty of all charges, he would serve all the charges consecutively.

“He would be facing a maximum of 3-7 years in the department of corrections.”

During the hearing, Dustin Finlaw walked into the court room with a hand-written letter in his pocket.

The defendant handed the letter to a court officer to hand to the judge

“I wouldn’t say its common but it does happen,” Turner said.

It is still unclear what that letter said.

Finlaw’s attorney, Thomas Piper, says he was not aware that Finlaw had written a letter to the judge.

Piper confirmed that the judge didn’t read the letter and the only way he would be allowed to read it is if it is submitted as evidence.

The attorney said he could not comment on what was in the letter but did confirm that he read it.

As for Robert Utter’s homicide investigation, no one has been charged with murder.

Robert’s girlfriend said that upsets her because she just wants to know what lead up to her boyfriend’s death.

“Because I mean all I’m looking for is justice for not only myself and Bobby but for the family and friends that knew Bobby," Utter's girlfriend, Sarah Millslagle said. "I’m just looking for answers as to why and what led up to the events.”

She said she hopes that people remember Utter for all the qualities she loved about him.

“His smile and his laugh and his generosity towards everyone," Millsalagle said. "And the love and respect he had for everyone he came in contact with.”

Finlaw will appear in court for a pretrial hearing on July 11.

The judge will then ask both the prosecution and defense if they are ready for trial.

The Morgan County Assistant State's Attorney said they would be ready to start the trial as soon as possible, but the defense attorney said it takes time to get cases like this ready for court.

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