Thursday, January 10, 2013
A two-day hearing was set to determine whether wife-killer Drew Peterson will get another murder trial.
Drew Peterson's murder trial lasted 24 days. Now the wife-killer's looking forward to a two-day hearing to see if he gets to do the whole thing over again. Judge Edward Burmila scheduled the hearing for Feb. 19 and 20. If the judge decides after those two days not give Peterson a new hearing after all, Burmila said he will head straight to sentencing. Peterson, 59, faces up to 60 years in prison for the March 2004 murder of his third wife, Kathleen Savio. Prosecutors have subpoenaed Peterson's second wife, Victoria Connolly, and one of his five sons, Eric Peterson, to testify against him at the sentencing hearing. Connolly has said Peterson threatened to kill her and make her death look like an accident. She also told of Drew Peterson …
Monday, January 7, 2013
A Rockdale man who did prison time for his part in a drunken wreck that claimed the life of a 10-year-old girl in 1999 is headed back to the penitentiary.
Three years after finishing up a seven-year bit in prison for killing a girl in a drunken crash, Glen Ray Higginbotham was getting arrested again for drunken driving. A year later, while he was out on bond for that December 2010 DUI case, a drunken Higginbotham once more was arrested when he crashed into an oncoming car on New Lenox Road in unincorporated Joliet Township. "If there was ever a case where an individual was knocking on the prison doors to get in, it would be this defendant," Assistant State's Attorney Tom Slazyk said of Higginbotham during a Monday morning sentencing hearing. But Higginbotham's attorney, Alonzo Zahour, said that wasn't the case at all. The 34-year-old Higginbotham was actually sorry for his crimes and in no …
Thursday, January 3, 2013
The family of Joseph Messina was distraught after a Will County judge found him guilty of punching a Joliet man into a coma more than three years ago.
Three and a half years after he was punched into a coma outside a Mokena bar, Eric Bartels sat propped in a wheelchair in a crowded Joliet courtroom. After the judge found the New Lenox man charged with striking him guilty, Bartels blinked his eyes once. "There are times when he knows what's going on," Bartels' mother, Janet Bartels of Tinley Park, said after Judge Sarah Jones delivered her verdict against Joseph Messina, 24, Thursday morning. Janet Bartels wasn't sure if that was one of those moments, but said she saw Messina going down from the start. "I knew this would be the outcome all along," she said. All along began back in July 2009 at the Mokena bar 191 South. Messina and five friends went to 191 South to celebrate his 21st …
Saturday, December 15, 2012
Joel Brodsky bearing the brunt of the blown Drew Peterson murder defense in a Thursday filing was one of many interesting things going on at the Joliet courthouse this past week.
When a jury finds you guilty of killing your wife, it's safe to say you might have some image problems. But in the aftermath of the Drew Peterson murder trial, defense attorney Joel Brodsky may be looking worse than anyone. First there was his very public feud with co-counsel Steve Greenberg. Then Brodsky voluntarily withdrew (or was he discharged?) from the Peterson defense team. And once he was gone, the five lawyers still representing Peterson blamed Brodsky for blowing the case and pointed out that entering into a publicity contract with a suspected wife-killer could be viewed as unsound legal strategy. And then on Thursday, Greenberg got his latest last word in with a devastating, 32-page court filing that paints Brodsky as a a …
Saturday, December 1, 2012
Quadruple-killer Christopher Vaughn getting sent to prison for the rest of his life was just one of the things going on at the Will County Courthouse this week.
Last week was a short one, with Thanksgiving Day and Thanksgiving Day II giving us a bit of a break from the courthouse. But we got right back to it Monday with the attorney for quadruple-killer Christopher Vaughn blaming the guilty verdict on Drew Peterson and Drew Peterson's lawyers, among other things. The judge didn't buy this line of reasoning and declined to call a do-over and hold a whole new trial. Then he slammed Vaughn with four life sentences. That was rough. But at least Vaughn got an early start at serving all that time, as the county packed him off to Stateville Correctional Center the very next day. But that's not all. Let's look at what else was going on down at the courthouse during the week that just ended:
Friday, November 30, 2012
The convicted quadruple-killer got a quick start to his new life behind bars.
Will County didn't waste any time ridding themselves of Christopher Vaughn, packing the man who executed his entire family off to prison the day after his sentencing. Vaughn, 38, was shipped up to Stateville Correctional Center to start serving the four life sentences handed down by Judge Daniel Rozak on Tuesday. According to Department of Corrections Records, the former Oswego resident made it to Stateville Wednesday. Vaughn declined to make a statement at his sentencing hearing and sat stone-faced as Rozak told him he would never get out of prison alive. Vaughn's father-in-law, Del Phillips, later said he had hoped Vaughn "would open up and say why" he killed his wife, Kimberly Vaughn, and three children—Blake, 8, Cassandra, 11, and …
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Drew Peterson defense attorney Joseph "Shark" Lopez called blaming him and his co-counsel for helping send quadruple-killer Christopher Vaughn to prison "desperate."
Christopher Vaughn was staring at a life sentence for executing his entire family unless his lawyer somehow got him a new trial. The lawyer, George Lenard, tried to pull that off by pointing to the boorish behavior exhibited by the attorneys for wife-killer Drew Peterson and claiming it kept his client from getting a fair shake from the jury. Vaughn and Peterson's murder trials overlapped and were conducted in adjacent courtrooms on the fourth floor of the Will County Courthouse. Lenard came and went to the trial without addressing the media while Peterson's attorneys conducted press conferences throughout the day. Lenard recalled one press session and told how three of Peterson's attorneys—Joel Brodsky, Joseph "Shark" Lopez and Steve …
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Christopher Vaughn got separate life sentences for the murders of his wife and three children.
Right before a Will County judge dropped four life sentences on Christopher Vaughn, his grief-stricken mother-in-law wondered aloud why he couldn't have abandoned his wife and three children instead of killing them all. "What a coward," said Susan Phillips, the mother of Vaughn's slain wife, Kimberly Vaughn. "If you do not want your family, divorce is always the first option, or even just walking away," Phillips said from the witness stand during Christopher Vaughn's sentencing hearing Tuesday morning. Christopher Vaughn, 38, wanted to shed his family so he could start a new life in the Yukon wilderness with an unwitting stripper. In June 2007, he packed his 34-year-old wife and their three children—Blake, 8, Cassandra, 11, and Abigayle, …
Monday, November 26, 2012
The Drew Peterson media circus prevented Vaughn from getting a fair trial, his lawyer said, and the wife-killer's attorneys didn't help things either.
First, he killed one wife, then he was named a suspect in the disappearance of another, and now Drew Peterson's very existence has mucked up Christopher Vaughn's murder trial, the Oswego man's lawyer said Monday. Vaughn's lawyer, George Lenard, said the specter of Drew Peterson hanging over the Vaughn case is just one of the reasons his convicted quadruple-killer client needs a new trial. Besides the problem with Peterson, whose own murder trial was taking place in the courtroom next-door to Vaughn's in August and September, Lenard claimed Vaughn's case was corrupted when prosecutors succeeded in "indoctrinating" one of the jurors. Lenard also said a prosecutor insulted him during the closing arguments and he accused the jury of "improper …
Saturday, November 24, 2012
Thankfully, it was a short week.
It was a three-day week at the Will County Courthouse, so there wasn't a lot going on. It was nice while it lasted, because that's all going to change next week, starting with Monday's sentencing hearing for quadruple-killer Christopher Vaughn. Vaughn was convicted in September of murdering his wife, 34-year-old Kimberly Vaughn, and three children—Blake, 8, Cassandra, 11, and Abigayle, 12—in June 2007. Vaughn is going to get life in prison. But that's next week. In the week that just ended, we saw Coal City woman Tiffany Unland, 30, fail to convince a judge to further reduce her bond from $120,000 to $50,000. Unland already got it lowered once from $200,000. Unland allegedly killed a Palatine man in a drunken crash on Route 6 in Channahon …