A three year old murder case in Pinckneyville Prison involving a Rushville man’s death is likely to see trial sometime next year.
Special Appellate Prosecutor Jennifer Mudge filed three counts of first-degree murder in Perry County Circuit Court in July, charging 34 year old Daniel P. Mueller, formerly of Springfield in the alleged strangulation death of 33 year old Earl Little of Rushville in July 2018. According to the charging documents, Mueller allegedly compressed the neck of Little using an electrical cord from an oscillating fan in the jail cell they shared.
Little was imprisoned in Pinckneyville Prison 8 months prior to his death for an armed robbery in DuPage County for which he had received a 21-year sentence. Mueller was in the fourth year of a 30-year sentence for the strangulation murder of his girlfriend in 2014 in Springfield. According to the State Journal Register, Mueller was moved to the Lawrence Correctional Facility shortly after Little’s death.
Mudge says delays have hit the case during the Fall for a number of reasons: “He came to court and got an appointed attorney, Ben Grohmann. He was entitled to a preliminary hearing within 30 days because he’s in custody. Because of the circumstances of the case, the case didn’t get set on the court docket within 30 days – and by circumstances, I mean Covid, and the fact that [Mueller] is already in prison in a maximum security facility in isolation. So, we were passed the 30 days, so [Mueller’s attorney] requested that the case be dismissed and the court allowed it. We basically went into a 10 minute recess [that day], and I walked upstairs and re-filed the existing charges. It was sort of an exercise in futility, but nonetheless, that’s what happened. The status of the case hasn’t changed any. It’s still moving forward.”
Mueller’s first appearance in court setting his defense attorney was on September 15th. According to court documents, Mueller’s preliminary hearing was held on October 13th and a jury pre-trial date is set for January 4th.