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updated: 5/20/2011 3:59 PM

Yang gets life in prison for Deerfield murders

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  • Marni Yang, 43, is expected to be sentenced today for the murder of Rhoni Reuter and Reuter's unborn child.

      Marni Yang, 43, is expected to be sentenced today for the murder of Rhoni Reuter and Reuter's unborn child.

  • Rhoni Reuter

      Rhoni Reuter

 
 

For actions a Lake County judge called "methodical, meticulous and maniacal," Marni Yang will spend the rest of her life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Yang, 43, was convicted in March of the Oct. 4, 2007 slayings of Rhoni Reuter and Reuter's unborn daughter, who were gunned down as Reuter was leaving her Deerfield condominium.

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Obsessed with her on-and-off relationship with former Chicago Bears safety Shaun Gayle, Yang targeted Reuter for extinction because Gayle was the father of Reuter's unborn child.

Prosecutors laid out the extensive lengths to which Yang went to plot her attack on Reuter: from ordering a book on building a pistol silencer and purchasing the parts called for on the same day the book was delivered, to renting a car to drive to Reuter's home on the day of the attack and equipping it with stolen license plates.

"Few cases and few fact situations fit the definition of cold, calculated and premeditated as perfectly as this one," Assistant State's Attorney Patricia Fix said in arguing for the life sentence to be imposed.

"The degree of premeditation and planning present here is, at least in the career of this prosecutor, astounding," Fix added.

Thad Reuter, Rhoni Reuter's brother, said in his victim impact statement to the court that the members of his family still ache over their loss.

"Not a day goes by that we do not think of Rhoni," he said. "It is just not fair that we will not be able to speak to her again this side of heaven."

Defense attorney Jeffrey Learner asked for the minimum sentence of 45 years, saying it "was tantamount to a life sentence" because Yang would be in prison until she was 88 years old.

"We have gone beyond the dictate of an eye for an eye," Learner said. "The minimum sentence provides retribution for the victims, enforcement of the law for the public and punishment for the defendant."

Yang delivered her statement to the court -- in which she did not admit guilt -- through her attorney William Hedrick.

"I would like to express my sorrow for the family, this is a tragic thing for anyone to experience," Hedrick read from Yang's statement. "I am truly sorry for their loss."

Gayle did not attend the sentencing hearing because he had learned Yang's defense team intended to block his reading of a victim impact statement.

Hedrick explained the defense did not believe Gayle's paternity had been established in the case of Reuter's baby.

Fix said she would not comment on the defense motion to block Gayle from speaking at the hearing because it was withdrawn when Gayle did not appear.

Gayle's attorney, Donna Rotunno, read a statement from Gayle to reporters following the hearing.

"Some may be thinking may God have mercy on your soul," Gayle's statement said of Yang. "If there is a hell you will burn in the hottest part of it."

Associate Judge Christopher Stride said he was sentencing Yang to life in prison for the first-degree murder of Reuter and imposed a second life sentence for the intentional homicide of Reuter's unborn daughter.

He told Yang that hearing her tell a close friend who was secretly tape recording her that she believed she would never get caught was an indication Yang was under the "mistaken belief that her crime had taken place in the shadows."

Crime, however, rarely takes place in the shadows, Stride said.

"The only thing that took place in the shadows, Ms. Yang, took place in the shadows of your mind and in the deepest, darkest places of your heart," Stride said. "Those actions were exposed to the bright light of justice in this courtroom."

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