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Trial begins for Wonder Lake man accused in stabbing death

Published: Monday, Aug. 19, 2013 5:17 p.m. CDT • Updated: Monday, Aug. 19, 2013 10:07 p.m. CDT

WOODSTOCK – Twelve jurors were selected Monday as the trial began for a Wonder Lake man accused of first-degree murder.

Richard G. Nielsen, 53, was charged in connection with the February 2012 stabbing death of 34-year-old Jeremy Lechner.

The two men reportedly were arguing over missing medication in an altercation that turned deadly.

The incident happened at 7607 Orchard Road, in Wonder Lake, where Nielsen lived at the time with a woman Lechner had been dating, Becky Meyers, and another man.

Nielsen's attorney, Special Public Defender Bill Bligh, plans to argue that Nielsen acted in self-defense. His legal team is allowed to present some evidence and testimony that Lechner had a previous history of "aggression and violence."

An autopsy revealed that Lechner died of a single stab wound to the chest that hit his heart.

Just before jury selection began, McHenry County Judge Michael Feetterer granted the prosecution's request to show jurors autopsy photos. If the defense argues that Lechner and Nielsen had a physical altercation before Lechner's death, the photos would show bruising or sores on his hands, but showed none, Assistant State's Attorney Sharyl Eisenstein said.

Feetterer also barred defense attorneys from mentioning that Nielsen had initially been charged with involuntary manslaughter and aggravated battery, but later upgraded to first-degree murder. Feetterer called enhancing the charges a "function of the State's Attorney's Office."

The trial will resume Tuesday morning and is expected to last through the week.

Coincidentally, a juror selected once served on the jury for the murder trial of Kenneth E. Smith, who was convicted or murdering a McHenry restaurant owner.

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