PAXTON - Murder charges against a Gibson City man who had been accused of killing his wife were dismissed Tuesday, but there is a possibility they will be refiled when more evidence is processed.
Robert T. Osborne, 28, had been charged with first-degree murder in the death of Danyelle M. Osborne, 26, whose body was found Oct. 31 under a bridge southeast of Gibson City.
Jury selection and opening statements originally were planned for Tuesday.
The charges can be refiled, but Lee declined to comment on his plans.
Osborne, who had been in custody since Nov. 1 in lieu of posting $50,000, was released from jail after the hearing.
The dismissal came after the prosecution tried to gain more time to process evidence.
Osborne would have had to go to trial by Feb. 27 because the defense never waived the right to a trial within 120 days of being charged.
Initially, the prosecution sought to have Osborne released on his own recognizance, which would have stopped the clock for the trial. However, Pacey denied the request. Asking a judge to grant such a motion in such a case is "unprecedented, and I decline to do so," he said.
"I'm not going to be the one to release this defendant on his own recognizance because of an oversight that has far-reaching consequences," Pacey said.
The judge said he was being asked to release a defendant accused of a murder that the prosecution sought to prove was "especially heinous." If convicted, Osborne could have faced life in prison.
Pacey also said he had no reason to believe in the defendant's "personal promise to reappear, particularly if DNA evidence returns to be that of the deceased."
The judge was referring to pending testing on a pair of tennis shoes Osborne was wearing when he was arrested, defense attorney Harvey Welch said. The tennis shoes previously were not sent for testing with other evidence, and only went to the lab on Feb. 14.
The defense also would have to have time to review those test results.
When Pacey denied the release on personal recognizance and Lee's request to argue the law related to it, Lee then asked the court to dismiss the charges against Osborne without prejudice. Pacey granted the motion.
"Without prejudice" leaves open the possibility that the charges can be refiled.
Following the hearing, Welch said, "The prosecution had a problem with the 120-day timeline and an evidence problem."
While waiting for the unexpected release, Osborne's family members and friends expressed their happiness.
"What happened to Danyelle is tragic, but he (Osborne) doesn't have it (the ability to kill his wife) in him," Osborne family friend Linda Harris said.