NEW FISH ARRIVES IN ILLINOIS...
Death Row is now open for business...
Inmates greet killer with chants of 'death row'
By Dave Fopay Charleston Times-Courier
CHARLESTON, Ill. - A guard who took Anthony B. Mertz to prison said Friday the convicted killer was like a "wilting flower" when inmates began chanting "death row" upon his arrival.
Coles County Courthouse security chief Oren Lockhart was one of four officers who took Mertz, convicted of the 2001 killing of Rolling Meadows native Shannon McNamara, to Stateville Correctional Center near Joliet on Thursday for processing - just one day after a downstate Coles County jury had sentenced him to death.
Lockhart said he was surprised other inmates being processed there were able to recognize Mertz as the first inmate on Illinois recently emptied death row.
"For a short period of time, those prisoners started chanting 'death row,'" Lockhart said. "He was definitely disturbed."
He said Mertz, 26, showed no emotion on the trip to the prison, but slumped over in fear apparent when he heard inmates' chants.
"If he wasn't afraid, he's crazier than I thought he was," Lockhart said.
Guards at the prison also knew Mertz was headed for death row, he added, and made comments like, "You guys are famous" upon Mertz's arrival to Stateville.