Man wants new trial in 2014 murder of wife, found 'staged' on Geneva train tracks

  • Shadwick King was sentenced to 30 years in prison for his wife's murder.

    Shadwick King was sentenced to 30 years in prison for his wife's murder.

 
 
Updated 7/5/2018 12:21 PM

A man convicted of killing his wife in 2014 and dumping her body on the railroad tracks in Geneva is seeking a new trial.

Lawyers for Shadwick King, 51, formerly of Geneva, argue he was denied a substitution of judge and that testimony from an FBI "profiler" was improperly allowed and prevented him from receiving a fair trial.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Attorneys recently argued their points in Elgin before an appellate court panel, which took the matter under advisement.

King was arrested in early July 2014 after the body of his wife, Kathleen, 32, was discovered on the Union Pacific Railroad tracks. At trial, prosecutors presented evidence that a jealous King killed Kathleen in a jealous rage during the early morning hours of July 6, 2014, and staged her body on the tracks hoping a train would run over her and her cellphone.

Prosecutors showed how King obsessively tracked Kathleen, who struck up an emotional affair via text message and Facebook with a 22-year-old Massachusetts man she met at Army training in Texas earlier that year. In one of the 3,499 text messages Kathleen and the man exchanged, he asked her to marry him, which sent King over the edge, according to trial testimony.

Defense attorneys argued there were no witnesses to put King at the scene, overzealous police targeted King from the outset, and contended Kathleen died from a heart condition.

King's appeal argues he was denied a substitution of judge, which is a right allowed to all defendants if the current judge has not made a substantial ruling on the case. King's attorneys say asking that prosecutors obtain a warrant instead of a court order for his cellphone records did not equate to a substantial ruling.

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"The trial court's order granting the state's motion was merely a discovery decision. As this court has ruled, discovery decisions ordinarily do not pass upon substantive issues," wrote attorneys from Jenner & Block LLP.

King's attorneys also argue that Mark Safarik, a former criminal profiler with the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit, was improperly allowed to give an opinion on the cause and manner of Kathleen's death and that King had "staged" the crime scene.

"No Illinois court has ever held that a person without training as a forensic pathologist may give an expert opinion as to the cause of death, let alone a murder case in which qualified forensic pathologists disputed it," read part of the appeal brief. "This was no more than closing argument masquerading as expert testimony."

King was convicted in 2015 and sentenced to 30 years in prison.

Kathleen's murder was the first in Geneva since July 1975.

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