Judge mulls Burlington murder suspect's statement; trial date set
A Kane County judge will decide by March 3 whether statements to detectives by a Burlington Township man accused of killing his father can be used at trial later this year.
Daniel Rak, 31, is charged with the murder of his father, Jeffrey, 58, who was found unresponsive in the early morning hours of Feb. 14, 2016, at his home on the 13N0-99 block of Engel Road.
Rak admitted to detectives he punched his father, who he said was an alcoholic prone to blackouts and falls, two days earlier after the elder Rak barged into a bathroom and saw Daniel Rak's girlfriend naked.
Rak was questioned at the Kane County sheriff's office, later released and eventually charged with murder in June after a grand jury issued an indictment.
Kane County Public Defender Kelli Childress has argued Rak's statements to detectives were involuntary and should be banned from Rak's trial.
Childress said Rak was intoxicated, vomiting, cold and hungry when questioned. Rak was subjected to psychological coercion when he was told it was standard operating procedure to give a statement and then he would be allowed to leave, see his girlfriend or talk to his mom, Childress argued.
"It is more than obvious to anyone watching that video that Mr. Rak was drunk," said Childress, stressing that 24 times over an eight-hour span, Rak either vomited or reached for a bowl as if he was going to.
Childress also argued that authorities, who responded to a 911 call from Rak that his father needed help, lacked probable cause to arrest Rak. Even though Rak admitted to authorities he punched his dad, "We would have to know if Jeffrey Rak threw the first punch."
Prosecutors have contended Rak's statements were voluntary and he was not intoxicated to the point where he could not function. Rak was questioned for only about 81 minutes during the more than two days he was held, prosecutors noted.
Judge D.J. Tegeler said Friday he will rule on the matter March 3. Tegeler has viewed the video recording in his chambers; it has not yet been played in court.
Also March 3, Childress said she will argue to have the charges against Rak dismissed. Childress said that during a routine discovery request of emails, the county's IT department included confidential emails between defense attorneys that were accessed by prosecutors, thus violating client-attorney privilege.
May 1 also was set for Rak's jury trial.
He faces 20 to 60 years if convicted.