BLOOMINGTON — A Central Illinois man facing murder charges has accused a co-defendant of threatening his life by soliciting another inmate to harm him at the McLean County jail, according to court filings related to the July homicide at Funks Grove Nature Preserve.
Matthew Isbell of Marquette Heights, and Christine Roush of Washington are charged with the July 2 murder of Roush's mother, Teresa Ann Poehlman. The 47-year-old victim was found by hikers in a wooded area of the nature preserve.
Poehlman had been stabbed and beaten.
In a request for a reduction in his $300,000 bond, Isbell claims that Roush, 22, attempted to solicit the help of another inmate to harm him and that his life was threatened after he provided information about Poehlman's death to McLean County sheriff's investigators.
Roush also threatened to kill Isbell and his mother if he talked to police, said the court filing.
Sheriff Jon Sandage said Wednesday he has not received any reports of threats involving Isbell and no charges have been filed against Roush based on Isbell's accusations.
Defense lawyer Alison Motta said in her court filing that she received information about the alleged threats as part of discovery materials from the state.
Isbell, also 22, contends that he was "merely a pawn in Roush's plan and a witness to the unfortunate and horrific murder of Teresa Poehlman," states the motion.
Text and social media messages collected by police support Isbell's claim that he was not involved with Roush in any planning that led up to the woman's death, according to the defense motion.
In an interview with investigators, Isbell implicated a third person — a man living in McLean County— who allegedly "helped instruct Isbell and Roush on how to dispose of property and get new cellular telephones after the murder was committed," according to court records.
That person has not been located by police. Isbell told police he knew Roush planned to kill her mother and she may have used a crowbar and knife from his truck to commit the murder.
Under Illinois law, a person can be convicted of murder if the defendant shares a common criminal intent and criminal design with the person who kills the victim.
Authorities have not disclosed a motive for the killing that occurred after Poehlman, of East Peoria, and her daughter both booked rooms at the same Bloomington hotel.
The request for a lower bond includes a statement that Isbell is unemployed and has no criminal record.
Both defendants are scheduled in court on Friday: Isbell for his bond motion and Roush for a hearing related to her mental fitness. Both have pleaded not guilty to the charges.