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New hearing set for Malta man accused of killing Mt. Morris woman and her unborn child in 2020

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OREGON – A defense attorney for a Malta man charged with killing a Mt. Morris woman and her unborn son in November 2020, told an Ogle County judge he needs more time to secure medical records.

Matthew T. Plote, 35, of Malta, appeared in court on March 1 with his defense attorney, John R. Kopp, of Geneva, in front of Judge John “Ben” Roe.

Plote is charged with killing Melissa Lamesch, 27, of Mt. Morris, and her unborn son on Nov. 25, 2020, and then setting fire to her house to conceal their deaths.

Lamesch’s baby was due Nov. 27, 2020.

Plote faces four counts of first-degree murder, three of intentional homicide of an unborn child and one each of residential arson, aggravated domestic battery and concealment of a homicidal death.

The March 1 hearing was continued in January after Kopp said he had yet to receive Lamesch’s medical records from before her death.

He said efforts to secure the medical records from DuPage Medical Group through subpoenas have been unsuccessful.

“We’ve been trying to get the medical records since October,” Kopp said. “We’ve sent faxes, emails over the last two months, and now they say they need a court order.”

He asked if Roe would reissue another subpoena asking for the records with his signature clearly visible.

Assistant State’s Attorney Heather Kruse said her office might be able to provide the defense another form that could help with the request.

Kruse said the state had secured records from the eight fire departments that provided mutual aid to the Mt. Morris Fire Protection District on the night of the fire.

Roe set the next pretrial hearing for March 14 at 10 a.m., with an April 6 date as a backup.

Plote has been in custody at the Ogle County Correctional Center since his March 8, 2022, arrest. He appeared in court wearing the standard orange jumpsuit and in handcuffs and leg irons. Two of his family members sat in one row of the courtroom’s public seating area while two of Lamesch’s family sat two rows behind them.

Lamesch was found about 4:30 p.m. after firefighters responded to 206 S. Hannah Ave. in Mt. Morris, where they encountered heavy smoke and blaring smoke detectors. She was found on the kitchen floor and pronounced dead at the scene, despite lifesaving measures.

She was a 2011 graduate of Oregon High School and an EMT at Trace Ambulance Service in Tinley Park.

Prosecutors have yet to offer a possible motive in the case, but have said Lamesch and Plote knew each other before the killings.

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