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updated: 4/23/2014 6:14 PM

Police recount evidence gathered in 1994 Waukegan murder case

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  • Hezekiah Whitfield

    Hezekiah Whitfield


Lake County prosecutors focused on blood stains, DNA and a flat tire during the second day of testimony in the trial of a Chicago man accused of killing a Waukegan business owner in 1994.

Police officers recounted how blood stains inside the Grand Appliance Store in Waukegan were collected and tested for DNA, then described how a flat tire from victim Fred Reckling's stolen car was recovered by police two weeks after the murder.

Hezekiah Whitfield, 44, of Chicago, faces six counts of murder for allegedly hitting the 71-year-old Libertyville man with a gun wrapped in a cloth during a robbery at the store.

Whitfield is alleged to have left Reckling to die in the store, but took his wallet and car keys and fled to Chicago.

Officers testified Wednesday that Reckling's Lincoln Town Car suffered a flat tire after the murder, and the driver changed the tire on the Tri-Sate Tollway. Officers recovered Reckling's wallet and the flat tire on an embankment about two weeks after the murder. The car was later recovered by police on the city's north side, authorities said.

This is the second time Reckling's murder has gone to trial in a Lake County courtroom. Prosecutors originally charged James Edwards, now 66, with the crime after he signed a written confession. Those charges were dropped in 2012 after DNA cleared Edwards of the crime. Edwards said he was physically and psychologically coerced into signing the confession.

Edwards remains incarcerated for an unrelated armed robbery in 1996.

The same DNA evidence led authorities to arrest and charge Whitfield for Reckling's murder. He has been held in Lake County jail since his 2012 arrest in lieu of $3 million bond.

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