Judge allows some internet search evidence in Naperville murder trial
Grant Muren's internet searches regarding the film "The Bourne Supremacy" may be relevant in his upcoming murder trial but searches involving several pornographic terms and themes are not, according to a DuPage County judge.
Prosecutors argued during a Wednesday morning hearing that the Naperville man's search history, which included inquiries about "homosexual sex with African-American men," would easily discredit Muren's defense strategy that he was defending himself when he killed his new roommate in 2014.
Muren -- who is charged with first-degree murder, concealment of a homicide and aggravated arson -- will stand trial Aug. 23 in the Jan. 20, 2014, strangulation of 55-year-old Charles Clark in Clark's townhouse.
Prosecutors said Muren and Clark met in early 2014 when Muren answered Clark's online ad seeking a roommate.
Muren signed the lease Jan. 20 and paid Clark the first $900 rent installment before moving into the townhouse on the 1100 block of Vail Court in Naperville's Estes Park neighborhood. Within hours, the men purchased liquor and had a consensual sexual encounter, prosecutors said.
An argument ensued. Muren was ordered to leave the townhouse but refused. A short time later, Muren smashed Clark over the head, from behind, several times with a wooden tray table as Clark sat at a desk, prosecutors alleged. Eventually Clark was strangled, prosecutors said.
Muren's attorney Paul DeLuca has argued the sex was not consensual, and Muren was the victim of a sexual assault that led to the fight.
Muren is accused of taking back the $900 in rent and fleeing, only to be arrested several days later when Clark's body was found.
Upon entering the home, authorities smelled natural gas and found the burners on and the oven doors left open. Lease papers and blood-soaked Lysol wipes packed the inside of the toaster oven, and Clark's body was in the upstairs bedroom.
Prosecutors sought to introduce Muren's web history leading up to the killing.
Assistant State's Attorney Enza LaMonica argued Wednesday that the history would prove that Muren, now 24, actually sought out sex with black men.
"He's searching for interracial homosexual sex," LaMonica said. "It's something he searched for and desired. It's showing he desired this."
Judge Brian Telander, however, ruled that just because Muren searched for those terms doesn't prove he sought out Clark, who was black, for sex.
Telander did rule that Muren's online searches related to "The Bourne Supremacy" would be relevant to proving the concealment charge.
Prosecutors said Muren's actions of stuffing the toaster oven with papers and magazines and turning on the gas in attempts to "blow the place up" were taken directly from a scene in the Matt Damon film.
"It goes to his intent to cover up there had been a murder," LaMonica said. "It's exactly what happened in the movie. It's exactly what the defendant did to cover up the murder."
Telander also said he will allow searches related to the movie and television series "Hannibal," which was found in the search history of the victim's computer on the day of the murder. Prosecutors said Muren used "Hannibal" for a password on several of his online accounts. Telander said prosecutors may use the "Hannibal" evidence to place Muren at the scene of the murder.
"(Muren's) obsessed with a serial killer, and this is a murder case,' LaMonica said.