Marni Yang retrial petition to be ruled on next month
The question of whether Marni Yang will be allowed to proceed with her petition for a retrial will have to wait another month.
Yang, currently serving two life sentences, was convicted of first-degree murder in 2011 for killing Rhoni Reuter, the pregnant girlfriend of former Chicago Bear Shaun Gayle, and her unborn baby in Deerfield on Oct. 4, 2007.
Lake County Judge Christopher C. Stride told attorneys at a hearing Tuesday morning he would need more time to process the documents associated with Yang's retrial petition, which is about 700 pages long. The hearing was rescheduled for Dec. 17.
"I understand, it took me three years to write it so I think it's only fair he takes seriously his duty, reads it carefully and we'll come back on the 17th," Yang's attorney Jed Stone said.
The petition is in stage one, which means Stride will make a determination without input from prosecutors on whether the petition for retrial is without merit and fails to state a constitutional claim. Stone said he believes the petition will proceed to stage two, where prosecutors will be able to make motions to dismiss.
Lake County state's attorney's office spokesman Lee Filas said the office could not comment due to pending litigation.
In Yang's trial, prosecutors said she was obsessed with Gayle and killed Reuter in hopes of strengthening a relationship with him.
During the initial investigation of the shooting, there was circumstantial evidence pointing to Yang. She was arrested after conversations between Yang and a friend were secretly recorded and Yang can be heard describing the killing.
The retrial effort kicked off with a news conference last month when the now adult children of Yang said they were forced to implicate their mother in the murder by overzealous investigators and prosecutors.
Stone said after Tuesday's hearing his team has uncovered corruption by Lake County Major Crimes Task Force, errors by the prosecutors and scientific evidence of Yang's innocence.
"And those three things are a tsunami of success for a post-conviction petition," Stone said.
Christopher Covelli, the spokesperson for the Lake County Major Crimes Task Force, said Stone was allowed to allege anything he wishes.
"However, we will wait for the court to hear all of the actual facts, the evidence and make their determination based on the law before commenting," Covelli said.
Among the new evidence Stone cites is an unknown male's DNA discovered on five unspent bullet shells found at the crime scene. He also said the trajectory of the bullets fired contradicts the prosecution's theory of the crime.
An appeals court denied Yang's 2013 bid for a new trial. In 2014, a Lake County judge granted Stone's request for new DNA tests on bullet shell casings.