© 2024 WGLT
A public service of Illinois State University
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

McLean County judge approves Joshua Livingston's request to act as his own lawyer at murder trial

A man in prison jump suit looks ahead as a man seated in front of him looks at a computer screen.
Edith Brady-Lunny
Joshua Livingston enters the McLean County courtroom ahead of a hearing in his murder case on Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2023 at the McLean County Law and Justice Center.

A judge has approved Joshua Livingston’s request to serve as his own lawyer on murder charges.

The 41-year-old Danvers man is accused of strangling Melissa Ostrom in April, a month after he was charged with domestic violence, with Ostrom, 39, as the victim named in court records.

At a hearing on Tuesday, Livingston renewed his earlier complaints against public defender Matthew Koetters in which he contends Koetters has not adequately prepared a defense in the murder case. Koetters told Judge William Yoder that Livingston has refused to communicate with him.

The defendant was required to answer a series of questions from the judge before Koetters was dismissed. Livingston said he once served as his own lawyer in a federal civil case. His education is limited to a GED, he said.

Yoder cautioned Livingston, saying self representation “is not a simple matter of telling one’s story.” Livingston will be expected to handle the case in a competent manner and will not have a lawyer on standby, said Yoder.

The first order of business for Livingston is a series of state motions set for hearing on Friday. The state wants permission to consume evidence samples during DNA testing. Prosecutor Aaron Fredrick said after the hearing the items relate to a fingernail in a vehicle associated with Livingston, and evidence collected during Ostrom’s autopsy.

A third motion seeks a protective order barring the defendant from sharing any discovery materials that he may be given as part of his legal work. In court filings, the state expressed concerns that Livingston has allegedly harassed victims or witnesses in other cases.

Livingston is jailed in lieu of posting $200,000. He faces eight felony counts, including murder, possession of a stolen vehicle, concealing a homicidal death and possession of meth.

Edith Brady-Lunny was a correspondent at WGLT, joining the station in 2019. She left the station in 2024.