Man removed from court following outburst during fitness hearing

JACKSON COUNTY — A 28-year-old man accused of the 2016 murder of former Salem resident Robn Stief was warned in Jackson County Court Friday that continued interruptions in court would result in him giving up his rights to appear in court for future hearings.

Robert Dennis
(Source: Carbondale PD)

Robert Dennis has been found temporarily unfit to stand trial in the case charging him with Stief’s murder and the burning of her body to hide her death.

Dennis was found unfit to stand trial after a mistrial was declared in his case. He reportedly was disruptive during the trial in which he represented himself.

Deputies escorted him out of the courtroom following an order from the judge who commented that Dennis had clearly had a breakdown. The judge declared a mistrial after Dennis left and ordered another fitness examination.

He was again removed from the courtroom following his outburst on Friday.

In 2017, defense attorneys raised a doubt as to Dennis’s mental fitness to stand trial. An evaluation was conducted and he was ultimately found fit to stand trial on the two first-degree murder charges and the Class 3 felony charge of concealing a homicidal death.

Following his removal from his trial, Dennis was again examined but was then found unfit and was remanded into the custody of the Illinois Department of Human Services for treatment.

A status on that treatment is scheduled for July 24.