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updated: 4/24/2014 5:22 PM

Prosecution rests in 1994 Lake County murder trial

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  • Hezekiah Whifield

    Hezekiah Whifield


Lake County prosecutors concluded their case Thursday against a man accused murdering a 71-year-old Waukegan business owner in 1994.

However, just before the state rested, Mark Reckling recounted the day he arrived at the Grand Appliance Store in Waukegan and learned his father, Fred Reckling, had been killed.

"(Police) had roped everything off and my dad was (inside)," Mark Reckling testified. "They kept me out of the building, then talked with me later."

Defense attorneys for Hezekiah Whitfield, 44, are expected to call about a half-dozen witnesses to testify in the case. Whitfield faces six counts of murder for allegedly hitting Fred Reckling of Libertyville with a gun wrapped in a cloth during a Dec. 8, 1994 robbery at the store.

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

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.

Whitfield's former girlfriend -- Shamiya Mathis -- testified Thursday that Whitfield told her in 2011 that he had killed Reckling.

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