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updated: 4/22/2014 5:19 AM

Second trial in Waukegan business owner's 1994 murder set for trial

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  • Hezekiah Whitfield

      Hezekiah Whitfield

 
 

The 1994 murder of a Waukegan business owner goes to trial for a second time this week.

Jury selection began Monday and opening statements are expected Tuesday in the murder trial of Hezekiah Whitfield of Chicago. Whitfield, 44, is accused of killing Fred Reckling, 71, of Libertyville, inside his Grand Appliance store in Waukegan.

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Initially, James Edwards, 63, confessed to and was convicted of beating Reckling to death inside the store. However, Edwards said he was physically and psychologically coerced into signing a confession.

DNA evidence cleared him in the case in 2012. Edwards remains behind bars after being convicted of an unrelated armed robbery in 1996.

The same DNA evidence that cleared Edwards led authorities to arrest and charge Whitfield on six counts of first-degree murder in Reckling's death. DNA from blood found in the store and in Reckling's vehicle matched Whitfield's, authorities have said.

An arrest warrant for Whitfield was issued after he was indicted in May 2012. He has been held in Lake County jail since his arrest in lieu of $3 million bond.

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