No jail clothes for accused killer in courtroom

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ROCK ISLAND, Illinois- A Quad City man accused of killing his grandmother and uncle will not be allowed to be photographed in his jail jump-suit during court hearings or his trial.

Instead, defendant John Conwell, 39, will be dressed in regular street clothing when the cameras are rolling during any upcoming court appearances.

"This is something that's a little difficult for the jail to actually have to dress a defendant before every court appearance," said John McGehee, Rock Island County States Attorney.

"But, the court granted it," he said.

The motion was made by public defender Baron Heintz and discussed behind closed doors, before Judge Frank Fuhr issued a written ruling.

Heintz, who is known for objecting to extended media coverage which legally allows cameras in Illinois courtrooms, maintains that photographs and video of Conwell in jail attire could prejudice a potential juror.

The ruling also states that the media "shall not film, photograph, publish or broadcast" Conwell in shackles or leg restraints in the courtroom.

Conwell was indicted last week by a Rock Island County grand jury. He did not appear at today's hearing. Heintz, instead, waived his appearance and entered a not guilty plea for him.

Conwell is accused of killing Eleanor Conwell, 90, and her son, 69-year-old Steve Conwell. Both were found inside their home in Rock Island beaten and bludgeoned to death, after another son couldn't get in touch with Eleanor to hand-deliver a Mother's Day card.

According to court documents, Conwell "knowingly and without justification" struck Eleanor and Steve in the head and cut their throats.

At the time of the murders, relatives say Conwell was broke and living in a tent in the back of his grandmother's house.

"My mom had a big heart and my brother Steve was getting fed up with him and wanted him out," said Paul Conwell, Eleanor's son.

Court records reveal Conwell has a long history of arrests, including aggravated DUI, aggravated domestic violence, drug possession, violating an order of protection, and aggravated assault.


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