Bail Set At $5 Million For Suspect In NIU Student's Death

(CHICAGOTRIBUNE)

Two weeks after police discovered burned human remains near the Northern Illinois University campus, the man accused of killing freshman Antinette ""Toni"" Keller sat quietly as a judge said he might face the death penalty if convicted of crimes that united many on the campus in shock, grief and fear.

William P. Curl listened intently Saturday but showed no other outward emotion during his first DeKalb County court hearing since being charged with first-degree murder, criminal sexual assault and arson, as well as less serious offenses in which he is accused of fleeing to Mexico.

The 34-year-old DeKalb man, dressed in orange jail garb with his hands cuffed behind his back, answered a few perfunctory questions with ""Yes, sir"" during the brief hearing in which he appeared from jail via closed-circuit TV.

As DeKalb County Judge James Donnelly listed the charges, he warned Curl of a possible death sentence if he is convicted. Prosecutors are required by law to declare whether they plan to seek the death penalty within 120 days of indictment.

Donnelly confirmed Curl's estimated $5 million bail and appointed an assistant public defender. Curl is due in court again Monday.

Keller, an 18-year-old art student from Plainfield, disappeared Oct. 14 after she told friends she was going to Prairie Park south of campus to work on a class project. Police found remains in the park two days later. Authorities have not made an identification, but they said Keller's belongings, including her cell phone, camera and charred clothing, were nearby.