A potential suspect in the death of a Rushville man found dead in Meredosia last week made his first appearance in Morgan County Court today.
While no charges of murder have been alleged at this point, 18-year old Dustin Finlaw, of Versailles, appeared in front of Judge Chris Reif today for the first time on a five-count allegation.
Also in court today was Morgan County State’s Attorney Gray Noll. In what was a rather strange sequence of events, the defendant Finlaw was completely unresponsive, sitting completely motionless and silent with no facial expressions as Judge Reif read him the five counts he faces, possibly in relation to the murder of 42-year old Robert Utter of Rushville, whose body was found in an SUV on Montgomery Street in Meredosia last week.
In the case against Finlaw, the state alleges five counts, including two counts of alleged aggravated battery, two counts of alleged obstructing justice, and one count of alleged resisting a peace officer. According to court documents, in the first count, the state alleges that Finlaw committed aggravated battery in that on May 24th, he knowingly made contact of an insulting and provoking nature, in that he pushed a known police officer engaged in their official duties. Count two reads almost identical to that of count one, alleging that Finlaw pushed a second officer of the law on the same date.
In count three, the state alleges that, again on May 24th, Finlaw obstructed justice in that he knowlingly destroyed or altered physical evidence with the intent of preventing apprehension, in that he destroyed or altered his cell phone, which contained evidence relevant to an investigation of first degree murder, that of Utter.
Count four also alleges that Finlaw committed the offense of obstructing justice, however this time the allegations start to get more serious. In court documents, the state alleges that Finlaw knowingly furnished false information to a known police officer regarding his whereabouts during the alleged homicide of Utter. Court documents state that Finlaw allegedly told the police officer that he was not present at the scene of the homicide, knowing such information to be false.
The fifth count against Finlaw alleges that he resisted a peace officer in the act of placing the suspect under arrest, resulting in the proximate injury of said officer.
Finlaw remained stone-faced and stoic while Judge Reif read aloud the allegations he faces, and the possible penalties each alleged count carries if found guilty. Only once did Finlaw appear to engage in the proceedings by just briefly looking over court documents explaining what the state is alleging he has done.
Ultimately, Judge Reif assigned Public Defender Tom Piper to represent Finlaw in this case, and set the defendant’s next court date for June 12th at 9 a.m.