The First District Appellate Court on Tuesday reversed the conviction of a man found guilty of first-degree murder in the 2006 death of his elderly mother in Arlington Heights.
Wayne Weinke Jr., 60, was convicted three years ago of throwing his mother Gloria Weinke, 77, over a banister and into a stairwell in her home at The Moorings in Arlington Heights on July 18, 2006, following a disagreement over his inheritance from a family estate valued between $8 and $10 million.
Gloria Weinke, who had been diagnosed with cancer in 2005, lay at the bottom of the stairs for 14 hours before a Moorings employee found her and called for help, according to testimony during Weinke's 2013 bench trial.
Much of the prosecutors' case rested on video-recorded statements from Gloria Weinke, who answered attorneys' questions from her hospital bed during a deposition taken several days later while she was being treated for broken ribs and a broken pelvis.
"I didn't fall down the stairs. He threw me," she said, repeating what she had told police officers and paramedics. "He threw me over the railing like a sack of potatoes."
Gloria Weinke died several months later of the injuries she sustained that day, according to prosecution witnesses.
The appellate court ruled the trial judge should not have allowed the video-recorded deposition as evidence in Weinke's trial. Doing so violated Weinke's constitutional rights because his attorney did "not have an adequate opportunity" to cross-examine Gloria Weinke, the panel ruled.
Prosecutors' "representations regarding Gloria's injuries, condition, and prognosis were false, misleading or unsupported," the ruling said.
According to the court's decision, "allowing Gloria's evidence deposition to be taken on an emergency basis constitutes reversible error."