The timing of Alyssa Van Meter's death is likely to be an important issue in the DuPage County murder trial of the man accused of killing her, Adam Belmont.
Prosecutors allege Van Meter was still alive and struggling with the Northlake man after Belmont stabbed her and while he sexually assaulted her in December 2012 in a Woodridge apartment. If the allegation is proven true, Belmont could face a natural life sentence in prison.
Belmont, 25, is being held without bail and faces between 20 and 60 years in prison if he is found guilty solely of Van Meter's murder.
Belmont also is charged with home invasion, aggravated criminal sexual assault, criminal sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual abuse and abuse of a corpse.
DuPage State's Attorney Robert Berlin said Monday a judge can impose a sentence of up to natural life in prison if prosecutors can prove sexual assault or sexual abuse occurs during the commission of a murder. Prosecutors announced in June that they intend to seek the extended sentence.
Belmont's attorney, Sam Amirante, argued Monday before Judge Blanche Hill Fawell that 16 of the 22 charges against Belmont, including those of sexual abuse and sexual assault, should be dropped because Van Meter was dead when those acts are alleged to have occurred.
"This is a very uncomfortable position to argue and I know I'm splitting hairs here, but I'm doing it for a very important reason," Amirante told the judge. "There was no evidence presented to the grand jury that the sexual assault occurred before the death."
Hill Fawell disagreed and refused to dismiss any of the charges.
Belmont is accused of slaying Van Meter, 25, late on Dec. 15, 2012, inside the Woodridge apartment they once shared.
Prosecutors said he scaled the building to break into the second-story unit, then plunged a pocket knife into her heart when she refused to rekindle their relationship, which had ended about a week earlier. He also is accused of performing several sex acts after stabbing her.
Assistant State's Attorney Demetri Demopoulos argued, and Fawell agreed, that the grand jury was presented "more than enough" evidence to support the additional charges.
Court records filed earlier this month state Woodridge detective Jody Porras testified to the evidence of home invasion and the sexual assault and abuse charges. During her grand jury testimony, the file indicates Porras testified that scratch marks on Van Meter's arms "came from the struggle with Van Meter."
Belmont's next court appearance is scheduled for 9 a.m. on Nov. 17 in courtroom 4012. His trial is expected to begin on Feb. 3, 2015.