Lawyers for Deerfield murder suspect attack eavesdropping evidence

 
 
Updated 1/27/2011 5:48 PM

Lawyers for the woman accused of killing a Deerfield woman and her unborn child asked a Lake County judge to throw out evidence collected through secret tape recordings.

The request threatens what prosecutors claim may be the most damaging evidence against Marni Yang, 43 -- her alleged confession to the crimes during conversations with a friend.

 

Yang, of Chicago, is accused in the Oct. 4, 2007 shooting deaths of Rhoni Reuter and Reuter's unborn daughter.

Police said Yang committed the crimes because she was jealous of Reuter's relationship with former Chicago Bears safety Shaun Gayle, who was the father of Reuter's baby.

When Yang was arrested for the crimes March 3, 2009, police said a friend had tape-recorded a pair of conversations during which Yang admitted the killings.

The alleged admission was something police failed to extract from Yang during two days of questioning in January 2008, as she maintained her innocence throughout the grilling.

Associate Judge Christopher Stride ruled last month that nothing Yang said to police during those sessions could be used at her trial unless Yang testifies as a witness because police ignored her requests to speak to an attorney.

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On Thursday, defense attorney William Hedrick asked Stride to bar prosecutors from using the recordings made by Yang's friend on March 1 and March 2, 2009, based on his previous ruling in the case.

Hedrick argued most of the information police used as probable cause for a judge to allow the secret recordings came from the questioning sessions Stride had already ruled improper.

But Assistant State's Attorney Patricia Fix countered that police had confirmed all the information Yang gave them during the January 2009 sessions through independent sources, and knew much of the information before they even questioned her.

Hedrick also claimed approval for the secret recording was invalid because the application listed Feb. 27, 2009 as the start date, but a judge did not sign the authorization until the following day.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Hedrick said the result was "An order that purports to grant the authority to go back in time," even though there were no actual recordings made until the March conversations between Yang and her friend.

Scott Frost, a former Lake Zurich Police detective who investigated the case as part of the Lake County Major Crimes Task Force, testified the application was dated Feb. 27 because police anticipated Yang's friend would agree to wear the concealed tape recorder earlier than she did.

Fix argued the dates were a technical problem and courts have already ruled applications "should be viewed in a common-sense manner."

Stride said he would rule on the motion Feb. 7.

Earlier Thursday, he denied a defense request to prevent any information gathered by police taps on Yang's telephones between Feb. 18, 2009 and her arrest from being used at the trial.

Frost testified police gathered no useful information from the phone taps, and Stride said Yang's defense had not shown the taps were improperly authorized.

Yang is scheduled to go to trial in the case Feb. 28.