Two people charged with murdering a 65-year-old Brookfield woman last June appeared together in court for the first time on Feb. 23 before Cook County Circuit Court Judge Noreen Love.

The appearance was a routine status hearing, and the two are slated to be back in court on April 4. Prosecutors are still awaiting evidence from the state crime lab, which often takes months to process items.

Still, last week marked the first time both Steven Kellmann and Bonnie Shelesny stood side by side, accompanied by their lawyers, in front of Love. Neither spoke.

Kellmann, his head shaved and dressed in prison scrubs, stood to the left of the diminutive Shelesny, who wore a powder blue prison uniform and white sneakers. Kellmann appeared to look in Shelesny’s direction as lawyers set the date of their next hearing.

The hearing was not without a bit of drama. Four neighbors and friends of murder victim Marilyn Fay sat in the front row of the courtroom as the two defendants were led in by sheriff’s deputies. One woman, reportedly a former co-worker of Fay’s from the Brookfield Public Library, abruptly got up and stormed out of the courtroom, fighting back tears and crying out, “Bitch!” at Shelesny.

Kellmann, 31, and Shelesny, 24, are accused of brutally murdering Fay on June 13, 2010, stabbing, beating and suffocating her in her Arthur Avenue home, where Kellmann periodically lived and worked as a handyman.

Police arrested both Kellmann and Shelesny the following day at a motel on Chicago’s Southwest Side. Kellmann was charged with murder almost immediately, but Shelesny was released as police continued their investigation. She was charged with murder in December 2010. Both have since been indicted for murder and other crimes and have pleaded not guilty.

At the Feb. 23 hearing, Prosecutor Patricia Melin reminded Love that Shelesny is eligible for the death penalty under Illinois law. The state has until May to determine whether it will seek the death penalty.

In the meantime, Gov. Pat Quinn could make that issue moot by signing legislation that has already passed the General Assembly outlawing the death penalty.

The state in December announced it would not seek the death penalty against Kellmann.

– Bob Uphues