A Lake County judge on Wednesday said an attorney for a man serving life in prison for the 1994 murder of a Waukegan businessman may have the identity information of another man whose blood was found at the crime scene.
But Circuit Judge John Phillips told the lawyer for James Edwards he was not to reveal the name of the blood donor to anyone without further court action.
Edwards, 62, was found guilty in 1996 of the beating death of Fred Reckling, owner of the Grand Appliance store chain, inside the chain's Waukegan store.
At the time of Edwards' trial, prosecutors told jurors that blood that did not match Reckling or Edwards had been discovered on the store carpet and inside Reckling's car. The vehicle had been stolen from outside the store on the night of the murder.
Store employees testified at the trial they frequently cut themselves while at work and at times drove Reckling's car on errands. Defense attorneys argued the blood was an indication Edwards was not the killer.
Last month, Deputy State's Attorney Jeff Pavletic publicly disclosed the blood had been matched to an individual whose DNA is in the computer database of convicted felons.
Pavletic said at the time police were investigating the DNA match and were seeking the individual to confirm the match and question about the crime.
Assistant State's Attorney Michael Mermel said in court Wednesday the DNA match had been confirmed through a second test, and the case was still under investigation.
Mermel told Phillips all the information about the match -- other than the name or other identifying information about the man -- had been turned over to defense attorney Paul DeLuca, who is representing Edwards.
DeLuca argued he needed the identifying information to allow his own investigators to interview the man so he could prepare other motions to file in the case.
Mermel said he was concerned about identifying the man in public because of potential leaks of the name.
"This individual is gainfully employed, is not in custody and there are no charges against him at this time," Mermel said. "There are libel and slander laws in this country, and the state is asking for a protective order in the event he is publicly lambasted in the media when he is not charged with anything."
Phillips said he would agree to allow the release of the man's name to DeLuca, but told the attorney the identification was restricted to him, employees of his law firm and investigators.
Phillips ordered both sides to return to court Aug. 10 to report on the progress of their investigations.
In addition to the life sentence for the Reckling murder, Edwards is serving a 60-year term for the 1995 armed robbery of a Waukegan motel and a second life term in Ohio for the 1974 murder of a woman in a Cleveland suburb.