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updated: 5/19/2011 5:40 PM

Cell, IPASS records tie Hill to murder scene

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  • Frank Hill

    Frank Hill


Minutes before and after he set fire to his girlfriend's townhouse in Gilberts, Frank Hill's cellphone was ringing, prosecutors say.

Humberto Garcia called Hill several times because the pair were supposed to carpool to work the morning of Jan. 9, 2007.

According to testimony given at Hill's murder trial Thursday, Hill didn't answer the calls, but the phone signal bounced off a cell tower 0.86 miles from the burning home in the 500 block of Telluride Drive, showing he was there and not in Schaumburg -- the story he first gave police.

Hill, 33, is accused of killing his live-in girlfriend, 27-year-old Karyn Pearson, and torching her townhouse to cover it up.

If convicted of first-degree murder and aggravated arson, he could get life in prison.

Eight fire departments battled the blaze, which started at about 5 a.m. Jan. 9, 2007.

Prosecutors rested their case Thursday, but not before testimony showed that Hill's phone was part of 31 calls -- 24 of them outgoing -- from 4:52 a.m. to 8:21 a.m. that day.

Using cell tower locations and cellphone call times, prosecutors plotted out the sequence on a map to show Hill drove from Gilberts to Interstate 90 and then to Indiana by 7:51 a.m.

Kevin Foster, an Illinois Tollway customer service manager, also testified that the I-PASS transponder from Pearson's 2003 silver Jaguar, which Hill regularly drove, entered I-90 eastbound lanes in Elgin at 5:11 a.m.

Garcia, who was starting a new construction job that day and was told by his boss to carpool with Hill, testified that he called Hill in the morning but no one picked up.

Hill later called back around 5:10 a.m. saying he couldn't make it to work because his daughter was vomiting and needed to go to the hospital.

They later met in Schaumburg as a gas station so Hill could give Garcia a hard hat, Garcia testified.

Beth Eichinger, a Carpentersville police evidence technician and part of the Kane County Major Crimes Task Force, testified that she searched the Jaguar at the police station the night of Jan. 9 and seized the I-PASS transponder. Inside the trunk was an empty red plastic gas can that smelled of gas, she said.

Testimony from earlier in the week showed that debris from the fire tested at the state crime lab was positive for the presence of gasoline.

Public Defender Thomas McCulloch noted that police didn't test the gas can for fingerprints and no blood was found in the car.

Hill's defense will present its case Friday morning and the case is expected to go to the jury in the afternoon.