Sanders fit for trial

By Gary Henry
Posted 5/7/22

Stefanie Sanders, 27, has been found fit to stand trial.

Sanders is accused of setting a house fire March 1, 2021, in Vermilion, that resulted in the death of her boyfriend Michael J. Phipps and …

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Sanders fit for trial

Posted

Stefanie Sanders, 27, has been found fit to stand trial.

Sanders is accused of setting a house fire March 1, 2021, in Vermilion, that resulted in the death of her boyfriend Michael J. Phipps and their two-month-old daughter Nettie Phipps. Sanders’ two other children from a previous relationship were injured.

The fitness ruling came during a May 6 phone conference between Judge Charles D. Mockbee IV of Vermilion County Circuit Court, special prosecutor Kate Kurtz and defense attorney Sean Britton. According to court records, Sanders did not participate in the May 6 conference.

The case was assigned to Mockbee by Thomas M. O’Shaughnessy, chief judge of the Fifth Judicial Circuit, after Britton filed a motion to disqualify Judge Matt Sullivan from the case. The state subsequently filed a motion for a special prosecutor after Edgar County State’s Attorney Mark Isaf, who had been handling the case, was appointed by the Illinois Supreme Court in April to fill the vacancy created by Judge Steven Garst’s retirement.

Kurtz and Mike Havera filed their entries of appearance in the case on April 25. Both are attorneys with the Illinois State’s Attorney Appellate Prosecutor office.

Mockbee set a pretrial conference for July 7 and ordered Sanders be present for that hearing.