SYCAMORE – A DeKalb man pleaded not guilty Friday to charges of murdering his 19-year-old girlfriend and hiding her body in a closet.
A DeKalb County courtroom was packed Friday with friends and family of victim Moorea Des Roches, as the woman’s onetime boyfriend and father of her child, Michael Kulpin, was read the charges against him.
Kulpin, 20, of the 900 block of Kimberly Drive, DeKalb, faces a minimum of 20 years or a maximum 100 years in prison if convicted of first-degree murder. He also is charged with aggravated domestic battery and unlawful concealment of a homicidal death.
Should Kulpin be convicted of both murder and concealment of a homicidal death, he would have to serve sentences for each charge separately, DeKalb County Judge Philip Montgomery said.
Kulpin is represented by public defender Tom McCulloch, who said it is too early to know when the case could go to trial.
“We are anxiously looking forward to the state giving us the discovery and the documentation that they have, and we’ll evaluate everything before we decide where this is going,” McCulloch said.
Kulpin’s cousin, Robin Hansen, was among the crowd gathered in court Friday. She said an “unfathomably horrible childhood” might explain, but not excuse, her cousin’s alleged actions June 4.
“I guess what I’m saying is what he did, you kind of expect that to happen. The anger – it kind of created a perfect storm, and it all came together, all the stuff in his life,” Hansen said. “He grew up with horrible violence and horrible stuff that you can’t even fathom ... . In a way, I’m not saying that’s an excuse for what he did, but it sure was a factor and has played in it.”
Police have said Kulpin beat and repeatedly stabbed Des Roches inside their apartment during an argument June 4. He then hid her body in a bedroom closet and covered her with blankets and pillows, police said.
Tears fell on the face of Des Roches’ childhood friend, Madison Mientes, after hearing Kulpin’s plea and a summary of what allegedly took place the night of Des Roches’ death.
“I think that’s awful to put her family through this,” Mientes said. “Her parents couldn’t even come today because her mom was so sick at the thought of having to be here.”
Des Roches is from Campton Hills, near St. Charles, and she and Kulpin have a child together.
Mientes remembered Des Roches as a brave, loving teenager, with whom she played with at recess years earlier and ran alongside on their soccer team.
“She was not afraid of anything. We were always getting into trouble. Everything was fun with her. She was so carefree and so much fun to be around,” Mientes said. “She was a great person. There is not a person that just loved everything as much as she did. She was always telling us how much she loved us.”