Burlington murder trial delayed two weeks while email fight continues
The trial of a Burlington Township man accused of beating his father to death has been delayed while he fights to have the charges dismissed because privileged defense team emails were inadvertently given to prosecutors.
The jury trial for Daniel Rak, 31, who is charged with the February 2016 murder of Jeffrey Rak, 58, was set for May 1 before Kane County Judge D.J. Tegeler. Tuesday, it was moved to May 15, in part so Rak's attorney can continue to push to have the charges dismissed.
Public Defender Kelli Childress argues attorney-client confidentiality was violated when emails from her office were included in a subpoena for email communications by sheriff's deputies and investigators last fall.
Childress argues her client's right to due process was violated, and the emails gathered by the county's information technology department contained emails between Rak's defense team regarding trial strategy. IT officials did a search of "Rak" and Daniel Rak's court number and sent Lang a large batch of emails.
Tegeler needs time to read the emails, and a key computer forensics witness won't be able to testify until April 27.
Assistant State's Attorney Deb Lang testified Monday she immediately moved the emails into a "delete" folder after she realized what happened. She said she never read, copied or shared them with others.
Matthew Feiler, director of forensics at Elijah Ltd., a firm that specializes in computer forensic data investigation, wrote in court documents in February that he tested Lang's computer. He said if the emails were reviewed, saved or printed by Lang, there would be "forensic residue" on her computer and he did not find any.
Rak is held on $950,000 bail at the Kane County jail. His trial is expected to last about a week; Childress said Tuesday she has subpoenaed up to 25 doctors who may be called as medical experts at trial.
If convicted, Rak faces 20 to 60 years in prison with no chance of early release.