MOUNT CARROLL, Ill. — A three-day hearing begins today in which a judge will hear arguments for and against the early release of convicted murderer David Huffman.

David Huffman, convicted in the 1995 slaying of 14-year-old Thomson resident Melinda Wilkinson, is petitioning for post-conviction relief from a 75-year sentence in connection with the death of his former girlfriend 11 years ago.

Huffman is being represented by Attorney Jim Mertes of Rock Falls, Ill., before Judge William Kelly in Carroll County Circuit Court. Mertes is expected to argue that Huffman did not receive a sufficient defense and raise issues as to the competence and effectiveness of the defense presented by Huffman’s former attorney, William E. Schirger. The state will be represented by Carroll County State’s Attorney Scott Brinkmeier.

Last year, Kelly heard a motion by Brinkmeier to dismiss an amended post-conviction relief petition filed by Huffman as he seeks a reduced sentence.

Kelly denied the state’s motion and granted a motion by defense counsel to continue the case.

At that hearing, Kelly granted a motion for Mertes to replace Huffman’s former counsel, Carroll County Public Defender Donald Schweihs and set a status hearing to allow Mertes time to review the case file as he had just been retained as counsel.

In 1995, when Huffman was 17, he killed Wilkinson with repeated blows to her head with an aluminum baseball bat when she was out for a walk.

The blows resulted in three skull fractures and severe gashes as well as bruises to her left hand from trying to fend off the assault.

She also suffered bleeding in the liver.

Huffman then covered Wilkinson’s body in a bedsheet, placed her into a garbage can and dropped the can into the Mississippi River in a remote area near his home.

Later that year, Huffman pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and concealing a homicide and was sentenced to 75 years in prison.

Since 1995, Huffman has twice tried without success to appeal his sentence to have it reduced.

The Illinois Appellate Court upheld a Carroll County judge’s decision to deny his request.

In January 2003, a clemency hearing was held in Springfield, Ill., before the Prisoner Review Board as Huffman again sought a reduction in his sentence.

Huffman is eligible for parole in 2032.