Kane state's attorney names top prosecutor, employee
Four Kane County state's attorney employees were honored Tuesday, including the office's top prosecutor and employee of the year.
Assistant State's Attorney Bill Engerman secured numerous high-profile convictions this year to earn the top prosecutor honor, and Michelle Halbesma, the office's Deferred Prosecution Program director, spearheaded a recidivism study to help earn the employee honor.
Engerman was the lead prosecutor on the trial of Paul Johnson, who was convicted of the 2013 murder of his neighbor, Lisa Koziol-Ellis in Elgin.
Engerman, who also is the Kane County Bar Association president, served as a Kane prosecutor from 2001 to 2008 before being named first assistant state's attorney in DeKalb County.
He returned to Kane in 2011 and is lauded for his trial preparation and mentoring of less experienced prosecutors.
"It was a pleasure five years ago to bring Bill back to this office, just as it was a pleasure to name him our Prosecutor of the Year," said State's Attorney Joe McMahon. "He is respected by all in this office, and he is respected by his peers in the legal community."
Halbesma has served at the state's attorney's office since 1993 and has supervised the office's deferred prosecution programs for first-time offenders for nonviolent felonies, drugs, domestic violence and prostitution.
She also worked with Aurora University and the Illinois Criminal Justice Authority on a study that showed only 8 percent of people who completed the county's pretrial diversion program were arrested again within a three-year span.
"She's conscientious, caring, hardworking, efficient, and willing to be a trend setter," McMahon said. "Here efforts here have really helped me understand how to best use our limited resources."
Assistant State's Attorney Andrew Whitfield earned the "Ace of Spades" Award for courtroom excellence for felony trials. He also took home the honor in 2008 and 2014.
Assistant State's Attorney Kaitlin Kerstetter garnered the "Ace of Spades" Award for traffic and misdemeanor trials.