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Toni Keller Trial: New Start Date Falls on Slain Student's 21st Birthday

Lawyers say accused killer William Curl's hearing problems prevent him from understanding court proceedings.

After more than two years of waiting, the family of murdered Northern Illinois University freshman Antinette "Toni" Keller could finally see the wheels of justice begin to turn, with a new trial date for accused killer William Curl.

But in a bitter twist, the new start date — Jan. 14, 2013 — has another meaning for Roger and Diane Keller. That's the day their daughter would have celebrated her 21st birthday.

Medical tests revealed that Curl, 36, has hearing problems that could affect his ability to understand what's happening at his murder trial, according to his attorneys.

The trial has been pushed back yet again — it's already been delayed twice — so that Curl can be fitted for hearing aids, according to Keller family friend Thelma Holderness.

READ: Hearing Postponed in Toni Keller Murder Trial Due to Accused Killer's Earache

The new date, set during a Nov. 16 court hearing, is another blow to the family, Holderness said. Read the DeKalb Daily Chronicle's report on the Nov. 16 hearing.

"This is beyond cruel. This is beyond insensitive," she said. "Roger stood and he said to the court, 'Just so you know, that is Toni's birthday.'"

Holderness said Roger Keller was admonished by a bailiff not to speak out of turn during court proceedings. The court-appointed advocate was also instructed to speak to him about keeping his composure in the courtroom, she said.

"This is about treating the family with dignity and respect," an angry Holderness said Friday. Though Judge Robbin Stuckert suggested Jan. 7 and Jan. 14 as potential trial dates, the court ultimately settled on the latter, she said.

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Curl is accused of sexually assaulting and murdering Keller, 18, a Plainfield resident and NIU art major. Keller vanished Oct. 14, 2010, after telling friends she was going to a DeKalb park to take photos for an art assignment.

Her remains, which were burned beyond recognition, were found in the park two days later.

Curl is charged with five counts of first-degree murder, criminal sexual assault, one count of arson and one count of concealing a homicidal death.

Last month, Curl’s lawyers filed a motion seeking to dismiss all five murder charges because they don’t specify how Curl allegedly killed Toni. The attorneys say that prevents them from preparing a defense.

Stuckert is scheduled to rule on the motion during a Dec. 6 hearing, Holderness said.

The newest delay is the third time the trial date has been pushed back. It was initially slated to begin in May before being delayed until June. That same month, the judge agreed to again postpone the trial until December to allow for psychological evaluations of Curl to be completed.

Read more:

  • Accused Killer Seeks to Have Murder Charges Dismissed in Toni Keller Case
  • Keller’s Memory in Bloom at NIU
  • Fund Established to Purchase Bench in Honor of 'Sunflower Girl' Toni Keller
  • Toni Keller Murder Trial Delayed Until December
  • Public Defender Resigns in Keller Murder Trial
  • ‘Summoning of the Yellow’ to Support Keller Family
  •  

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Donna DiTusa November 17, 2012 at 01:27 PM
So sad .How that monster is given hearing aids.Its been 2years!!! Now the trial to start on What would of been Toni's 21th Birthday.Prayers to Diane and Roger.I will be there as one of your S.O.Y. On that morning
geohondro November 17, 2012 at 08:33 PM
That sick S.O.B. should be dragged from the back of a car on I-55 he deserves the ultimate punishment!!! So sad for toni's family...
NOBAMA November 17, 2012 at 08:50 PM
There is no need for hearing aids. There are court reporters who can provide real-time translation for hearing impaired and deaf people. As long as the person can read, they can use those services.
becky gunderson November 18, 2012 at 02:11 AM
OMG This is not so right!!!!! What he has done to her is unspeakable, he needs to be hung and strung!!! Better yet put him out in the yards and let them do to him what he has to her!!!!
Roger Keller November 18, 2012 at 11:57 AM
Dad we sat in that court room he responded to the judge talked to his lawyer. he can hear. but the court has to indulge his lies. to prevent him from lieing again and saying he could not hear so that is grounds for re-trial. Are system won't allow the court to just say you can hear you just responded to me. That crazy everyone in that court room new he was lieing but there hands are tied by the system. We need to make changes in the system. so murders like billy can't just munipulate the system and drag out these cases. Just were you know it all paid for by us, you all of us no wonder we have a deficit and high taxes.
Korinne Huber November 18, 2012 at 07:12 PM
Insensitive is an understatement for this change! Why isn't the Keller family getting this special treatment that Curl is getting? What a joke! So sorry Keller family. Praying for the "three times a charm" rule to work here.
Stephanie December 06, 2012 at 09:17 PM
What next? His back hurts from sleeping on the hard jail beds? He needs a chiropractor! Let's postpone another month and make the Keller family and friends suffer more.

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