A Marquette Heights man accused of fatally stabbing and then burning the body of a Downtown Peoria nightclub owner could go to trial in mid-December.

Bryan J. Stewart, 29, of 106 Yates Road, pleaded not guilty Thursday to first-degree murder, aggravated arson and arson in connection with the Oct. 2 death of Todd Scholl, who was found stabbed and burned in a storage room in a building at 105 SW Perry Ave.

Circuit Judge Kevin Lyons set the Dec. 16 date for Stewart’s jury trial. It is not likely the trial will actually start on that date but it is necessary to set a trial date to comply with the state’s Speedy Trial Provisions which require an incarcerated person be tried within 120 days unless they opt to delay the proceedings.

Police found Scholl’s body when they responded to the building fire. Several people were evacuated from apartments above the storage area, he said, which was the basis for the aggravated arson count.

Stewart told police he went to the building with Scholl to look over a job Scholl had for him. Once there, Scholl allegedly made sexual advances toward Stewart and when rebuffed, allegedly pulled out a knife and put it to
Stewart’s throat, Stewart told police.

A fight ensued, and at some point, Scholl was stabbed by Stewart, prosecutors have alleged. Stewart then allegedly set fire to Scholl’s body.

If convicted, Stewart faces up to 60 years in prison on the murder counts and up to 30 years in prison on the arson charge.

Editor’s note: Todd Scholl is a 1984 graduate of Illinois Valley Central High School.