Mistrial declared in Dennis murder case - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Mistrial declared in Dennis murder case

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MURPHYSBORO, Ill. -- The judge in a Jackson County murder trial declares a mistrial after the suspect had an outburst in court.

Robert Dennis is one of three accused in the August 2016 murder of Robin Stief.

Dennis decided to represent himself in the trial after he complained about his prior court-appointed attorneys. As the trial started this week, he requested various medical records and subpoenas for witnesses.

Prosecutor Casey Bloodworth said some of those records were given to him Tuesday night, including a copy of an interview police conducted with a potential witness.

Judge William Schwartz said Dennis stayed up all night and came into court Wednesday.

"He has clearly had a breakdown," Schwartz said.

Before the jury was brought in, Dennis criticized prosecutors and the judge because he believes they "falsified evidence to convict a disabled man."

"At our next court date, it's not going to change with this," Dennis said as deputies escorted him out of the courtroom following an order from Judge Schwartz.

Schwartz declared a mistrial after Dennis left and ordered a fitness examination.

"It's unfortunate that we've reached this point," Bloodworth said before Judge Schwartz ended proceedings Wednesday.

The judge did not set a date for Dennis to return to court.

Prosecutors believe Dennis met women through online dating apps and tried forming a "family-type unit" with them. They also say he was abusive and controlling of the women he met, including Stief, and when Stief tried to leave roughly a week after meeting Dennis, he attacked her with a hammer and suffocated her with a pillow.

Tiesha Anderson and Lauren Stinde also face charges in Stief's death and for trying to hide her body near Piles Fork Creek in Carbondale by lighting it on fire.

Stinde entered a open plea to first-degree murder in Nov. 2016 and has been in jail awaiting sentencing ever since.

Anderson is scheduled to be in court next on Oct. 9 and has a jury trial scheduled to begin Nov. 13.

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