{{featured_button_text}}
Hal Jennings

Jennings

BLOOMINGTON — A Bloomington man found not guilty by reason of insanity in the 2009 beating death of his 14-month-old daughter is close to being released to a halfway house.

Thomas Meece has been in a state mental health facility since a judge ruled that he was insane at the time he killed Erika Meece at his Bloomington home.

Meece, now 56, filed a petition almost four years ago seeking conditional release from state care. The development of an outpatient treatment plan and paperwork related to the release has been a lengthy process.

The state Department of Human Services has recommended Meece's release.

Dressed in a gray suit and tie, Meece sat next to defense lawyer Harold Jennings on Friday for a hearing where his mental health and the state's progress on his release were reviewed by Judge Casey Costigan. 

Jennings described Meece's mental health reports as "stunningly good." 

Assistant State's Attorney Ashley Scarborough said a treatment plan is in the final stages of review by a doctor, a process expected to be completed in about a month.

Costigan set a July 9 hearing where Meece's petition for release will be considered.

Meece was initially charged with first-degree murder for causing the head injuries that killed his daughter. He was found outside his home with a baseball bat when Bloomington police arrived at his home in the 600 block of South Madison Street. His daughter died the following day at a Peoria hospital.

Contact Edith Brady-Lunny at (309) 820-3276. Follow her on Twitter: @pg_blunny

McLean County Courts Reporter

McLean County courts reporter for The Pantagraph.