Yang's defense to attack probe of Deerfield woman's murder

 
 
Updated 2/28/2011 7:00 PM

Defense attorneys for the suspect in the 2007 murders of a Deerfield woman and her unborn child said Monday they will question the quality of the police investigation that led to their client's arrest.

Attorneys for Marni Yang, 43, said their client will be going on trial later this week as the result of an investigation that skipped over too many other people who could have played a role in the slayings.

 

Rhoni Reuter, 42, and her unborn daughter with former Chicago Bears safety Shaun Gayle both were shot to death in Reuter's Deerfield condominium on Oct. 4, 2007.

Police arrested Yang in 2009 after they said they recorded her confessing to the killings during a conversation with a friend.

Lake County Assistant State's Attorney Ari Fisz said prosecutors believe Yang was "obsessed" with Gayle -- who has denied having a romantic relationship with Yang -- and killed Reuter out of jealousy.

But defense attorney William Hedrick of Arlington Heights said detectives focused entirely on proving Yang's guilt at the expense of a complete investigation of other possible suspects, including Gayle.

"A key concept of the defense is that there were other worthy suspects," Hedrick said. "But none of those other suspects were subjected to the full-court press our client received from police."

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Hedrick listed a number of actions attributed to Gayle that surfaced in police reports following statements given by people who heard about the incidents from Reuter or others.

He cited some statements to police attributed to Gayle, and statements Yang made while she was being questioned by police about her relationship with Gayle and reasons Gayle should have been investigated more thoroughly.

Fisz said all the evidence Hedrick wanted to introduce in the trial was "hearsay, and in some cases hearsay inside of hearsay," and inadmissible because it did not produce a clear picture of Gayle as a suspect in the case.

Associate Judge Christopher Stride said he would bar the defense from making any reference to the evidence Hedrick said he wanted to introduce against Gayle unless Gayle referenced the matters in his own testimony, which is expected sometime next week.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Hedrick said he also wanted to tell jurors about the actions of two females associated with Gayle that the attorney said should have prompted further investigation, but Stride barred that as well.

In other motions Monday, Stride said he would allow prosecutors to tell the jurors about a series of letters containing derogatory information about Gayle that Yang sent to women she believed were involved with the former football player.

Fisz said a copy of the letter was found in Yang's residence in Chicago, and a second copy of the same letter was found in Reuter's car on the day she was murdered.

Stride denied for the second time a defense motion to allow Yang to have makeup and be visited by a hairstylist before the start of jury selection, expected to begin today.

Hedrick said after nearly two years in jail, Yang "looks like a crazy woman" and no juror who sees her in her present state of appearance would believe she had been involved with Gayle.

But Stride said he disagreed with Hedrick's assessment of his client's appearance and he would not order jail officials, who have refused to give Yang makeup to wear to court, to provide her with makeup.

If convicted, Yang faces 45 years to life in prison.