Court denies new trial in Gauger $20 million lawsuit
Ruling that she made the right calls the first time around, a McHenry County judge refused Monday to order a second trial in freed death row inmate Gary Gauger's lawsuit against three former McHenry County Sheriff's detectives he claims framed him for his parents' 1993 murders.
Judge Maureen McIntyre rejected defense arguments that she erred by blocking them from barring evidence about who was really behind the slayings and by preventing them from showing jurors the 1996 appellate decision that began his exoneration.
"I believe I made the right decisions," McIntyre said. "It may be for another court to determine."
The ruling sends Gauger back to the Illinois Second District Appellate Court in Elgin, where he hopes to again have justices reverse a county judge.
Gauger sued former sheriff's detectives Gene Lowery, Chris Pandre and Beverly Hendle in 2003, claiming they conspired to falsely prosecute him on charges he killed his parents, Morris and Ruth Gauger, on the family's Richmond-area farm. The couple was found dead on the property, their throats slashed.
After being convicted and sentenced to death and spending 31/2 years in prison, Gauger was released and ultimately pardoned when the murders were pinned on two members of the Outlaws motorcycle gang.
His $20 million lawsuit claims the detectives coerced him into making hypothetical statements about killing his parents during 18 hours of questioning, then arrested him as if he had made a confession.
But a jury cleared Lowery, Pandre and Hendle in August, ruling that they had probable cause to arrest Gauger given the evidence before them at the time.
Gauger's motion for a new trial focused mostly on McIntyre's decision to bar testimony about the Outlaws during the trial and her ruling on jurors seeing the 1996 appellate decision.
His attorneys argued the evidence would have bolstered their claims that the detectives fabricated the confession, but McIntyre ruled it would have no bearing except to maybe confuse jurors on the issues.