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Plote Sentenced to Life in Prison for Melissa Lamesch Murder – Shaw Local

OREGON — Calling it a “brutal crime,” Ogle County Judge John “Ben” Roe sentenced Matthew Plote, 36, of Malta, to life in prison Thursday for the November 2020 murders of Melissa Lamesch and her unborn son, who was at full term.

Lamesch, 27, of Mt. Morris, was 9 months pregnant with Plote's baby when she was found dead in her burning home on November 25, 2020.

Plote was convicted on March 22 of killing Lamesch just one day before Thanksgiving and two days before their baby was born.

Jurors deliberated for two hours before finding him guilty of four counts of first-degree murder, three counts of intentional homicide of an unborn child and one count each of residential arson, aggravated domestic battery and concealing a homicide death.

Roe announced the sentence after hearing victim impact statements from Lamesch's mother, father and sister and arguments from Assistant State's Attorney Heather Kruse and one of Lamesch's defense attorneys. Plote, John Kopp.

Melissa's father, Gus Lamesch, told the court his life was “changed forever” when his home was destroyed and his daughter and future grandson were murdered in a “premeditated and senseless” act. He said he could not continue living in the house because of the horrors he had seen when he was finally allowed to return.

“To walk in and see the spot on the floor where she was found and see all the baby items scattered around and find her foster cat Antonio dead under the bed trying to escape the fire,” Gus said. “I couldn’t go back to the horrors there.”

He said Melissa was in the prime of her life and couldn't wait to have the baby, who she had already named Barrett.

“The trial was very tough, considering the monster that killed my daughter,” Gus said. “Melissa and Barrett should still be alive. »

Melissa's mother, Deanna, from Malta, said she and her family lived in fear as the investigation into the death lasted 469 days before Plote was charged.

“He [Plote] “I had to be free and I was living in fear and anxiety,” Deanna said, adding that Plote worked for Malta’s SAMU as a paramedic, knew where she lived and would drive by her house. “I felt like we were being watched.”

She said she and her family waited 1,213 days for a guilty verdict. “It took 1,310 days to get here today,” Deanna said.

The deaths of Melissa and Barrett changed her outlook on life, causing her to withdraw and affecting her spiritually, Deanna said.

“None of this should have happened. He just had to go,” Deanna said.

During the trial, detectives accused Plote, a Carol Stream paramedic, of strangling Lamesch because he did not want the birth of his son to interfere with his “carefree playboy lifestyle.”

During an initial interview with police on November 25, 2020, Plote told detectives that Lamesch had wanted him to be involved with the baby, but initially “wasn't on board,” but s went to her house to “sort things out”.

Plote told police he stayed at Lamesch's house for “about an hour” and they talked at the kitchen table before moving to the couch to have what he described as consensual sex. He then left the house through the front door.

He chose not to testify at the jury trial.

Cassie Baal, Lamesch's older sister, told jurors she was on the phone with her sister when Plote appeared at the family's childhood home the day she died. “She said she would make the conversation quick and call me back right away,” Baal testified.

Prosecutors argued that Lamesch never called Baal back because Plote killed her and then burned the house down.

At the sentencing hearing, Baal said her sister had “joy in her voice” before the “evil” came knocking on her door. She said she was “continually swimming in grief” and regretted things she might have said during the phone call.

“If only I had told him not to go to the door.” If only I had known what would happen to him, maybe we wouldn’t be here today,” Baal said through tears.

Kruse argued that Plote intentionally put an entire neighborhood in danger when he set the house on fire after killing Melissa.

“This is a heinous crime,” Kruse said. “The sentence should also deter anyone from crossing that line.”

She said the crimes were particularly “sick” because Plote was in a profession that was supposed to help people.

“This is a horror story that Melissa and her family never saw coming,” Kruse said. “It was a pregnant woman and her child. If he could do this to his own baby, no one is safe from him. It was a cruel murder. She trusted this man. She let him into her house. »

Kruse argued for a life sentence and said evidence presented at trial indicated Melissa died while fighting for her and her baby's lives.

A forensic scientist at the Illinois State Police Forensics Laboratory in Rockford testified that Plote's DNA was found in fingernail scrapings taken from Lamesch's right and left hands. He also said that semen found in Lamesch's vagina also matched Plote's profile, as did cheek swabs taken from the dead baby.

Two forensic pathologists, Dr. Mark Peters and Dr. Amanda Youmans, told jurors that Lamesch was strangled to death before firefighters retrieved her from her burning home.

They testified that abrasions on Lamesch's face and scalp and bruises on his legs and thighs occurred before his death and that no elevated levels of carbon monoxide were detected in Lamesch's blood. . Her “full-term male fetus” showed no abnormalities. Lamesch also had minimal thermal injuries, they testified.

Youmans said Lamesch's neck, face, eyes and larynx all showed signs of strangulation; hemorrhages in his neck muscles were also caused by the pressure applied to that area; and when she cleaned the soot and debris from Lamesch's body, she discovered other injuries that she said were consistent with “blunt force.”

Those injuries, Youmans said, were found on Lamesch's forehead, head and temple and are consistent with “multiple blows to the head.”

“Her injuries were consistent with her fighting back,” Kruse said in arguing for a life sentence. “The terror she must have felt as she fought for her life and the life of her baby … this defendant should never be free again. This is a just sentence for the actions of this man who destroyed both of those lives.”

Plote's attorney, Liam Dixon, said Plote spent his entire career helping people as a paramedic and had also been an Eagle Scout. “He [Plote] has no criminal history,” Dixon said. “We ask the court to take that into account.”

When Roe asked him if he wanted to make a statement before the sentence was handed down, Plote responded softly: “I share the pain and loss of Melissa and Barrett. »

Roe said he considered all the arguments and evidence and, in addition to the life sentence, sentenced Plote to 60 years in prison for the baby's death and 15 years in prison for burning down the house. Lamesch in order to cover up the deaths. The sentences will be served concurrently.

Roe said the sentences were appropriate, despite Plote's lack of criminal history, considering Lamesch “was fighting for her life and that of her little boy” for 4 to 6 minutes while she was being strangled. to death.

Mount Morris firefighters testified that they were called to Lamesch's home, 206. S. Hannah Ave., around 4:30 p.m. on Nov. 25, 2020, and forced their way into the home, where they found Lamesch lying on the kitchen floor, not breathing and covered in soot and debris.

When she was pulled from the burning house and placed in an ambulance, there was no electrical activity in her heart and she was pronounced dead at 4:54 p.m., firefighters said.

Lamesch was a 2011 graduate of Oregon High School and an emergency medical technician at Trace Ambulance Service in Tinley Park. She returned home in October 2020 and was scheduled to go into labor Nov. 27.

Lawyer's reaction

Ogle County State's Attorney Mike Rock said he was pleased with the sentence. “We believe the court got it right,” Rock said. “This crime and this justice demanded a natural life sentence. I want to thank law enforcement and Assistant State's Attorneys Heather Kruse and Allison Huntley for their hard work and dedication in this case.”

Defense attorney John Kopp said he and Dixon plan to appeal. “We understand the court’s position. We believe we have several issues to address on appeal and our client intends to do so. Our thoughts are with the family. We are deeply sorry for their loss,” Kopp said.

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