Teenager shown mercy by judge, and given probation rather than jail, is charged with brutal murder of his father three weeks later
A 19-year-old man who was released from custody and put on probation is facing charges of murdering his father just three weeks after being set free.
Mathew Nellessen is accused of trying to rob his father George Nellessen before repeatedly hitting him with a baseball bat and stabbing him in the neck with a steak knife.
Mr Nellessen's body was discovered two days later.
Mr Nellessen had previously appeared in court on behalf of his son, who has been trouble for several minor offences, and had even posted his bail.
The teenager, from the Arlington Heights suburb of Chicago, Illinois, was released after court hearing on March 25.
He had been in custody for violating his probation.
Prosecutors allege that on April 12, Nellessen and three others - Marlon Green, 20, Armon Braden, 20, and Azari Braden, 19 - waited for Nellesen's father, George Nellessen, 55, to come home from work so they could rob him.
They allegedly duct-taped him to a chair and demanded his banking information.
After getting his father's chequebook, Nellessen allegedly wrote a $100,000 cheque to himself, then freed his father's hand to sign it, authorities said.
After Mr Nellessen Snr told his son he was going to call police, the teenager allegedly struck him repeatedly with a baseball bat. He then allegedly took a steak knife from the kitchen and stabbed his father in the neck.
The father's body was found at his home by a friend. He was still gagged and bound to the chair, with a bag over his head, authorities said.
An autopsy showed that the victim died from head and neck trauma. It is not clear whether it weas the beating or the stabbing that led to Mr Nellessen's death.
Authorities said a neighbour saw the teenager drive from the scene in a tan car, and felt it strange enough to call police.
NBC reports that this led to a chase through several jurisdictions until a tyre gave way on the car and Nellessen was apprehended and arrested.
Nellessen, Green and the Bradens are due back in court on May 9, charged with armed robbery and first degree murder.
Judge Kay Hanlon ordered Nellessen be held without bail.
She set bail for co-defendant Green at $3million but ordered him held without bail on a violation of probation stemming from a 2009 robbery conviction.
Bail was set at $2million for Armon Braden, and $1.5million for Azari Braden.
Questions will undoubtedly be asked why the judge was so lenient on a repeated offender.
But experts say the case highlights the dilemma that judges face.
Chicago-Kent College of Law professor Kari Johnson said: 'It's the worst part of the job. They're trying to read the future.'
At Nellessen's March 25 hearing, Judge Thomas Fecarotta Jnr had given the boy chance after chance. According to court transcripts, the judge said: 'The public is going to say what is with this crazy judge? He got a kid that he gave a break to.'
Nellessen's public defender and the prosecutor had agreed to four years in prison, but the judge decided to give Nellessen one last chance.
Judge Fecarotta said at the hearing: 'I am not your father. I am not a social worker. I am not your friend, nothing. I am the judge. I have already stuck my neck out on the line once for you.
'If you take another swing, trust me, you are going to go for a very long time.'
Nellessen promised he would clean up his act.
He told the judge: 'It is finally time for me to grow up. I have been in jail. The only way you make the future is to leave the past.'
Nellessen had been in and out of Judge Fecarotta's courtroom since 2009, when he appeared on a residential burglary charge.
He faced a possible four- to 15-year sentence for the class 1 felony, but Judge Fecarotta chose a programme for non-violent offenders at Cook County boot camp.
But, according to court documents, Nellessen was ineligible for the programme because he was being treated for social anxiety disorder and taking Ativan and Zoloft.
Back in court, the judge sentenced him to two years' drug probation.
Nellessen then violated that probation when he was arrested in late 2009 for possession of drugs.
Records show he failed to appear in court and was also arrested on other occasions for various misdemeanours, according to court documents.
Nellessen lived with his father. His mother died in 2004.
Neighbour Dolores Seibert said she had thought the son was a decent young man who 'fell in with the wrong crowd.'
She added that George Nellessen 'knew that it was all going wrong'.
Daniel Naranjo, Nellessen's public defender, said he could understand why Mr Fecarotta decided on probation.
Nellessen, who had no violent crimes on his record, was in for a minor violation stemming from a burglary.