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updated: 8/6/2010 12:36 PM

Father of dead girl talks about ordeal after DNA evidence frees him

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  • Jerry Hobbs

      Jerry Hobbs

 

Jerry Hobbs, the Lake County man who had been charged in the deaths of his daughter and another girl until DNA evidence linked another man to the killings said the case isn't about him.

Hobbs spent five years in jail on charges of first-degree murder in the May 2005 deaths in Zion of his 8-year-old daughter, Laura, and 9-year-old Krystal Tobias. About 24 hours after he was freed, Hobbs told the Chicago Tribune on Thursday that he is confident the truth will come out about the deaths.

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"It's not about me. It's about my kid. It's about my baby, Laura," Hobbs said in an interview from his mother's home in Wichita Falls, Texas.

Hobbs was charged shortly after he confessed to stabbing the girls to death. He later recanted and entered a plea of not guilty.

Last month, prosecutors in Lake County announced that DNA from the crime scene matched another man who once lived in Zion but was in custody in Virginia after being charged in two attacks on women.

Hobbs, who was driven to Texas by three members of his defense team, said he was afraid to scream his innocence from jail, adding he was kept in isolation for at least half of his time to give prosecutors more reason to pronounce him guilty.

"The only thing they had gotten out of me was what they got out of a broken father," said Hobbs. "I just lost my child."

Police learned of the killings after Hobbs reported finding the girls' bodies near their homes in Zion. Both had been stabbed numerous times.

Prosecutors alleged Hobbs killed them because he was angry his daughter was outside when she was supposed to be home.

Both defense attorneys and prosecutors have acknowledged there was no physical evidence linking Hobbs to the slayings.

The DNA match came on June 25 from a national database, where the man's DNA had been recently entered, according to Lake County Deputy State's Attorney Jeffrey Pavletic. Prosecutors then relaunched their investigation.

The man in custody in Virginia has not been charged in the Zion deaths.

Lake County State's Attorney Michael Waller said Wednesday that he was not convinced that Hobbs didn't have a role in the killings, but he said he didn't believe the case could be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.

For his part, Hobbs said the state's attorney's office has opened itself up to criticism and further scrutiny.

"It's not over yet," he said. "It's going to bring up lies from other cases."

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