7 years. 9 judges. 67 court dates. Why murder suspect is still waiting for trial

Seven years ago today, authorities say, Su Won Kil fatally shot a man he'd taken into his Gilberts home.

He was arrested just hours later, and within two days he was facing charges of first-degree murder.

In the years since, the case has been heard by nine judges, three of whom are now retired. It's been in court 67 times. It's had multiple trial dates scheduled, only to be postponed.

Why are the wheels of justice moving so slowly for Kil, 49, and shooting victim Dae Hae Kwak?

We asked lawyers on both sides this week but didn't get a clear answer.

Kil's attorney, Patrick Crimmins, would not discuss the reasons for the delays. Court records indicate that at least some of the continuances are due to defense requests to further examine evidence against Kil.

Assistant Kane County State's Attorney Bill Engerman, the lead prosecutor, said his side has been ready to go since the initial trial date in July 2014.

“With respect to the defendant's rights and the seriousness of the charges, the state has agreed to multiple defense requests since to delay the trial,” he said.

The case has been a source of frustration for the judges who've overseen it. Earlier this year, Judge Linda Abrahamson even threw in the word “sadly” when she spotted the case on her docket earlier this year.

The facts

Kil's case is a complicated one, to be sure. Authorities allege he shot the 61-year-old victim to death during an early-morning altercation. But Kil's defense argues he acted in self-defense when Kwak attacked him with a stun gun while trying to rob him.

Authorities say Kil took Kwak into his home after they met at an Elgin church.

The next court date is Aug. 30, and the trial is scheduled for Nov. 27.

Not the oldest

Hard to believe, but Kil's case is not the longest-running murder case in Kane County. That distinction belongs to the People v. Quinton Moore.

Moore was charged in 2007 with murders that happened in 2001 and 2005 in Aurora. His case has been delayed in part due to questions regarding his mental fitness to stand trial. He's been in the downstate Chester Mental Health Center for psychiatric treatment since last year.

Ruling in child's slaying

Nico Contreras Courtesy of ABC 7

A suburban man convicted in the gang-related murder of a 6-year-old Aurora boy - his uncle was the intended target - has renewed hope this week for another trial.

In a 46-page ruling, a state appeals court said a Kane County judge should hold a hearing to determine whether Mark A. Downs received adequate legal representation before he was convicted of the boy's slaying and sentenced to 70 years in prison. If the judge decides he didn't, Downs could get a new trial.

Mark A. Downs

Authorities say Downs, 41 and formerly of Montgomery, killed Nico Contreras in 1996 when he fired gunshots into a house on the east side of Aurora. Downs, police said, was acting on a gang leader's order to kill Nico's uncle, who was believed to be in the home.

The Kane County state's attorney's office is reviewing its options, which include asking the Illinois Supreme Court to reverse the finding.

Safest suburbs?

Five suburbs are among the 20 safest communities in the nation with populations of 50,000 or more, according to report published at, site of the National Council for Home Safety and Security.

According to the report, which crunched FBI crime data with “internal research,” Wheaton is the sixth-safest city, having seen just 23 violent crimes and 388 property crimes in 2016. Not far behind are Arlington Heights (15th), Hoffman Estates (16th), Palatine (17th) and Mount Prospect (20th).

Des Plaines is 35th and Naperville ranks 41st.

Award winners

Congratulations to the Carol Stream and Lake Zurich police departments for finishing in first and second place, respectively, in the “Championship Class” of this year's Illinois Traffic Safety Challenge.

The challenge recognizes departments for the approach and effectiveness of their highway safety programs. The Championship Class pits past winners against one another, regardless of the size of their force.

Carol Stream police earned added recognition for having the top distracted driving and impaired driving campaigns.

Other winners this year in their respective categories include Algonquin (36-50 officers), Buffalo Grove (51 to 65), Addison (66 to 100) and Arlington Heights (101-250).

Lock your car doors!

Not to sound like our mothers, but ... if we've told you once, we've told you a bazillion times: Lock your car doors.

Aurora and Batavia police put out notices this week to residents about spates of recent car burglaries. All happened to vehicles left unlocked.

“It's clear that many of these crimes are being committed by people going up and down streets and parking lots checking for unlocked vehicle doors. When they find an unsecured door, they enter the vehicle and steal anything they want,” Aurora police wrote on their Facebook page.

Buffalo Grove police issued a similar warning earlier this month after receiving reports of more than two dozen vehicle break-ins since April.

Got a tip? Send an email to or call (847) 427-4483.

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