Yang defense attacks witness' credibility
Marni Yang's defense team launched a full assault on the credibility of a key state witness against her Friday morning in Yang's murder trial in Lake County Circuit Court.
Yang, 43, is accused of the Oct. 4, 2007 murders of Rhoni Reuter and Reuter's unborn daughter in a Deerfield condominium.
Yang's friend and psychic adviser Christi Paschen testified Thursday that Yang told her significant details about how she committed the murders. Prosecutors say Paschen secretly recorded Yang making many of those statements.
Continuing her testimony Friday, Paschen admitted to defense attorney William Hedrick she lied to investigators when they first questioned her about the slayings. Paschen said she was first contacted by police seeking information about Yang on Jan. 17, 2008, and she lied when asked about her interaction with Yang on Oct. 3 and Oct. 4, 2007.
Paschen said she told police she did not see Yang the evening of Oct. 3, and the two women were together Oct. 4 in Paschen's Arlington Heights apartment talking.
Paschen testified Thursday that Yang had spent the night of Oct. 3 in Paschen's apartment, and the pair drove around Arlington Heights on Oct. 4 disposing of critical evidence in the case.
Hedrick also questioned Paschen about her military experience in the mid-1970s when Paschen claims to have been recruited for a special unit of psychics for the U.S. Army.
She eventually became an active duty member of the Army, Paschen said, and participated in a mission in the Middle East as the only woman assigned to a team of men.
All of the men were killed on the mission, Paschen said, and after she was rescued her memory was "erased," preventing her from recalling all of the details of her past.
But Hedrick showed Paschen a statement from an investigator with the Lake County Major Crimes Task Force in which the detective claims Paschen told him she had made up the tale of her military service to pad her resume as a psychic.
Paschen denied ever telling the detective her military service was fabricated.
Under questioning by Assistant State's Attorney Patricia Fix, Paschen said she originally lied to police about what she knew about Yang out of fear.
"I was afraid," Paschen said. "I was afraid of Marni and I was afraid of what I did."
Paschen has never been charged with a crime in connection with the slayings, and has been given no immunity from prosecution in exchange for her testimony.
She told Fix she finally decided to cooperate with police out of guilt.
"I feel guilty today for not going to police and warning people (about Yang's plans to kill Reuter)," Paschen said. "But I really didn't think it would happen."
In other testimony Friday, Deerfield Police Officer Chris Fry said he was part of team sent to search behind an Arlington Heights banquet hall where Paschen told police she watched Yang bury something on the night of the slayings.
Fry said police used a metal detector to recover a pearl bracelet with a Medic Alert plate engraved with the word "Pregnant."
Valerie Hicks-Thomas, a co-worker of Reuter at a Chicago department store, identified the bracelet as the one she saw Reuter wearing.