Murder suspect did not confess to cops early on
The suspect in the 2007 murder of a Deerfield woman and her unborn child was in police custody for questioning over three days, more than a year before she was charged, police testified during a hearing Thursday.
But Lake County Major Crimes Task Force detective Charles Schletz said Marni Yang, 42, resisted police efforts to get her to confess to killing Rhoni Reuter and ended the interrogation by demanding to speak to a lawyer.
Reuter and her unborn daughter were killed Oct. 4, 2007, when someone fired several shots from a 9-mm weapon into her as she opened the door to her Deerfield condominium.
Yang was arrested March 3, 2009, after police said they had secretly recorded her discussing the murders with a friend and her jealousy over Reuter's relationship with Shaun Gayle, a former Chicago Bears safety and the father of the child.
But nearly 14 months before that arrest, Yang withstood several hours of questioning by task force detectives.
Schletz, who testified at Thursday's defense motion to bar the tapes of those questioning sessions from being used at Yang's trial, said Yang was taken into custody as she left her Chicago apartment Jan. 4, 2007, and was told police would question her three children as well.
Schletz said Yang was taken first to the Round Lake Park Police Department, where the day passed without her meeting with detectives who were still gathering information about the case.
Yang was given her Miranda rights the morning of Jan. 5, Schletz said, and answered his questions throughout the day and into the night. Near the end of the session, he said, he told Yang police were aware she had a 9-mm pistol and asked where it was.
"She said it had mysteriously disappeared from her apartment," he said, "and then proceeded to suggest a number of people who had access to the weapon."
One of those people was her 16-year-old son, Schletz said, and he asked Yang if she believed her son could have killed Reuter.
"She said, 'In that scenario, I hope you understand, I would have to talk to a lawyer,'" he said. "Shortly thereafter, the questioning session was ended because it was late."
Schletz said Yang was brought back the next morning, was reread her Miranda rights and answered questions for several hours before demanding a lawyer and being released.
Defense attorney Williams Hedrick contended Yang's first mention of a lawyer should have ended the questioning once and for all.
Schletz said he believed Yang's first reference to a lawyer was a response to his hypothetical question about her son, and she was speaking about needing a lawyer for him.
"She never specifically said she wanted a lawyer for him," Schletz said. "But in the context of what we were talking about, that is what I believed."
He said he explained to Yang that police did not consider her son a suspect and were not thinking about arresting him, and she answered more questions.
At the end of the questioning the following day, Schletz said, it was clear to him Yang was asking for a lawyer for herself, and she was released.
Associate Judge Christopher Stride scheduled further testimony for Sept. 7.
Yang faces life in prison if convicted in the case and is held without bond.
A trial is tentatively scheduled to begin Jan. 10.