A Rock Island man accused of killing Eleanor and Steve Conwell Sunday night made his first appearance on the charges Wednesday at the Rock Island County Justice Center.

John Patrick Conwell, 39, dressed in yellow jail garb and handcuffed at the wrists and ankles, asked Judge Norma Kauzlarich several times about getting his $5 million cash-only bond reduced.

At one point during the brief hearing, he asked if he could be released on his own recognizance.

“Never in a million years, Mr. Conwell,” the judge said.

Conwell is charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Eleanor, his grandmother, and Steve, his uncle.

Police were called at 7:54 p.m. Sunday to the 1200 block of 29th Street for a welfare check and found the bodies of the Conwells.

Prosecutors allege in charging documents that John Conwell "knowingly and without justification" struck Eleanor and Steve Conwell, 90 and 69 respectively, in the head and cut their throats.

Their deaths resulted from "exceptionally brutal or heinous behavior indicative of wanton cruelty," according to the documents.

Preliminary results of an autopsy conducted in Dixon, Illinois, Tuesday reveal that the Conwells died from blunt trauma to the head and stab wounds to the neck, Rock Island County Coroner Brian Gustafson said.

John Conwell was arrested Monday afternoon in the area of 2nd and Ripley streets in Davenport. He waived extradition Tuesday and was taken to the Rock Island County Jail.

John Conwell faces life in prison if convicted.

When asked by Kauzlarich Wednesday if he understood the charges and the penalties he faced, John Conwell said, “I don’t agree with it.”

The judge appointed a public defender to represent Conwell, who said he had not worked for two months. 

He will be back in court May 30 for a preliminary hearing.

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