Dixon school shooter fit to stand trial
DIXON – Despite severe depression and odd and delusional thoughts that have caused him to stop eating properly – to the point of being hospitalized last month and force-fed – Dixon High School shooter Matthew Milby Jr. is fit to stand trial, a judge ruled this afternoon.
The 20-year-old, always thin but now verging on gaunt, sat silently next his public defender, Thomas Murray of Dixon, as James “Matthew” Finn, who specializes in forensic psychology, testified Friday that despite a variety of mental, emotional and physical issues, Milby was able to understand court proceedings and assist in his own defense.
Murray argued, however, that simply understanding who does what in a courtroom, and the charges and consequences, does not make his client mentally fit to stand trial.
He said he feared Milby’s depression, his inability to concentrate and his fatigue is causing “a significantly weakened psychological state” that will render him unable recall events, heed what witnesses are saying and otherwise assist in his own defense.
Rather than subject Milby to a trial at this point, “we need to address how to get him better,” Murray said.
Lee County Circuit Court Judge Charles Beckman disagreed, however, concurring with Finn’s opinion.
State’s Attorney Matthew Klahn also told Beckman that the state has made an offer to Milby to resolve the case; unless he decides to accept, his trial is scheduled to begin April 8 and is estimated to take up to 2 weeks.
When asked if he had seen the offer, Milby replied that he had, and that he “understood its terms and conditions.”
Details of plea bargains are not public until they are accepted.
Final pretrial motions are due March 11, and a hearing on any that might be filed is set for March 15.
Finn interviewed Milby on Feb. 23 at a Rockford hospital, where he was being force-fed after refusing to eat properly while jailed, losing weight and developing life-threatening symptoms caused by not getting enough nutrition.
According to Finn, Milby has delusional and odd thought patterns surrounding food – essentially, he is eating minimal amounts because “he has developed a belief that he wants to get the most nutrition possible out of any food he does intake ... that involves him getting his body to be most efficient,” Finn said.
Milby has” “limited insight into his mental health condition and the impact it has on his health” requiring hospitalization to prevent severe damage, even death, Finn said.
Among other things, when interviewed that day, Milby also suffered from fatigue and an inability to concentrate, which also are symptoms of his clinical depression, Finn said.
At that point, his fasting had been going on for several months.
According to court records, on Oct. 29, Lee County filed an emergency motion seeking to use “reasonable and necessary force” to get the inmate to eat, and to accept medical treatment.
On Oct. 31, the court ordered the jail to provide him a minimum amount of calories in the form of a protein drink or something comparable, and told Milby if he continued to fast, he would be hospitalized and fed intravenously.
That’s what had happened by the time of his Feb. 23 interview with Finn.
Investigators say Milby, then a DHS senior, took a 9mm semi-automatic rifle to graduation practice in the Lancaster Gym the morning of May 16, fired at gym teacher Andrew McKay, whom he encountered in a hallway, and took off running seconds later when confronted and pursued by Dixon PD school resource officer Mark Dallas.
Milby fired at Dallas outside the gym; Dallas returned fire, hitting Milby in the upper shoulder and hip. Milby was arrested near his car in Page Park. No one else was injured.
No motive for the shooting has yet been made public, nor has there been any indication of who, if anyone, Milby was targeting
He is charged with two counts of attempted murder and four counts involving aggravated discharge of a firearm. The charge involving Dallas carries 20 to 80 years in prison, with a potential 20-year enhancement; the other carries 6 to 30 years in prison, plus 20 years. The first two counts of aggravated discharge of a firearm carry 10 to 45 years; the other two 6 to 30 years.
All require him to serve at least 85 percent of the sentence.
He is in Lee County Jail on $2 million bond.
Milby also is charged with two counts of aggravated battery and one of misdemeanor battery after investigators say he got into a brawl Aug. 31 with two other Lee County Jail inmates, climbed onto the back of one and tried to strangle him, and struck another. Neither of them were charged.
The felony is punishable by 2 to 5 years in prison on each count.