The trial date for the man charged with shooting and killing Kelsey Sue Stahl, 24, of Clinton, has been moved to Sept. 26.
Clinton County Attorney Mike Wolf said the final pre-trial conference also now is set for Sept. 8. The trial had been set to begin April 18 but was moved Thursday after Jason Tate’s attorney requested and was granted a motion to continue.
Tate, 32, who has pleaded not guilty, was charged with first-degree murder of his girlfriend, Stahl, who was found dead of a gunshot wound to her neck in her apartment Dec. 21.
Tate was arrested in Chicago on Dec. 23 on a firearm charge after Clinton police found Stahl’s body in apartment 1650 at 2604 N. Fourth St., having responded there for a welfare check. Tate pleaded not guilty to the possession of a firearm as a felon charge against him earlier last month. He was charged as a felon because of a 1998 aggravated robbery case in Illinois, for which he served 22 months in prison. He will be tried on both of those counts at the September trial.
A court affidavit filed in connection with the first-degree murder charge states Tate drove Stahl’s 2003 Oldsmobile Alero to the Rockford, Ill., residence of Neelie Wallace on Dec. 19. Wallace, an acquaintance of Tate’s indicated as an ex-girlfriend in past court records, told police she saw blood on Tate’s clothes and a spent shell casing in his possession, the affidavit states.
Tate allegedly told Wallace he’d had a gun in Stahl’s apartment hours earlier that day, also reportedly telling Wallace two conflicting stories about Stahl’s death. One of the versions “explained how Tate’s firearm shot Stahl and she died,” the affidavit states.
A state medical examiner ruled that a gunshot wound to Stahl’s neck caused her death.
Police found Stahl’s vehicle abandoned in a Chicago suburb the same day as Tate’s arrest. Tate allegedly wept during an interview with Chicago police and told them he had thrown the gun into a river.
“Tate also told Chicago police he deserved to be shot for what he had done,” the affidavit states. “Tate said he did not deserve to be here, especially since (Stahl) was gone and her family will never see her again.”
The affidavit also alleges Tate told police “he was sorry” and that “he didn’t mean to do it." He also reportedly told police that he had tried to put Stahl’s body into the garbage, but that her body was too heavy.
First-degree murder is a Class A felony that carries a prison sentence of life without parole upon conviction. Tate is being held in the Clinton County Jail.