Kane public defender: 'Innocent man' convicted in Geneva murder

Updated 3/22/2015 4:36 PM

A week ago, Kane County Public Defender Kelli Childress was too emotional to talk about the guilty verdict against her client, Shadwick King.

A jury ruled that the 47-year-old King strangled his wife in July 2014 and moved her body to the Union Pacific Railroad tracks to cover up his role in her death. It was Geneva's first homicide since 1975.


Childress unsuccessfully argued that Kathleen King, 32, had fallen victim to a heart condition caused in part by intoxication, stress and lack of sleep.

Childress also argued that Geneva police, which had no departmental experience investigating a murder, rushed to judgment in the case and hired experts and a criminal profiler only after King's arrest to support law enforcement's theory.

After a two-week trial, jurors agreed with the state's argument that a jealous King killed his wife, who had begun an intense emotional affair via text and social media with a man she met at Army training, and tried to stage her body on the tracks to make it look like she died while running. "It was a big disappointment. I have to say we really didn't expect that result," Childress said two days after the verdict. "This is one where I have no doubt in my mind an innocent man was convicted."

Childress couldn't elaborate too much on specific aspects of the case because she plans to appeal.

The trial marked the third murder case Childress had personally defended in a full-blown trial since becoming public defender in summer 2011.

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The first two had different results.

In June 2012, a judge acquitted an Aurora woman of murder after she stabbed her abusive live-in boyfriend in November 2010, calling it the "base case of self-defense" he had seen while on the bench.

In August 2013, a jury found a Chicago man not guilty of murder after he threw a fire extinguisher off the fifth-floor of an Elgin parking deck in 2011 that struck a homeless man, who later died.

Childress said the verdict was still sinking in regarding King, who she referred to a "Shad" during the trial.

Childress said King is an "amazing person" who, while disappointed in the verdict, has remained optimistic.

"He has faith this is going to right itself," Childress said. "He hasn't lost hope at all."

Judge Susan Clancy Boles will sentence King May 6. He faces anywhere between 20 to 60 years in prison with no possibility of early release.


King's jury trial was the first in Kane County in which photographers and video cameras were allowed in courtrooms. While many defense attorneys oppose cameras, saying they can create an unfair prejudice against their clients, Childress has no problem with them.

"I am all for transparency in the process," Childress said. "The public has a right to see what's going on in the courtroom and it keeps all the players on their toes. It brings us all up a notch in our performance, preparation and behavior."


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