Des Plaines man fighting for new trial in 1988 murder-for-hire dies in prison
Ronald Kliner, a former Des Plaines man who's been waging a yearslong legal battle for a new trial in a 1988 murder-for-hire, has died in prison, his supporters announced Thursday.
Kliner died Monday at the Hill Correctional Center in Galesburg, according to the Friends of Ronald Kliner organization. He was 60.
A cause of death has not been disclosed, supporters say.
"Ronald Kliner fought for 29 years to prove his innocence and always maintained it," Natalia Bogucka wrote on a GoFundMe online fundraising page set up to help with funeral costs and an independent autopsy. "He was a warrior for the underdog. He spoke out against the justice system that stole the best years of his life. He was optimistic about being exonerated and everyone around him believed he was extremely close.
"We loved Ron with all of our hearts," she added. "We will continue to fight to clear his name."
Kliner had been scheduled to appear before a Cook County judge on Oct. 29, for a potential ruling on his latest motion for a new trial.
A jury convicted Kliner in 1996 of murder charges stemming from the February 1988 killing of Dana Rinaldi, who was shot five times as she pleaded for her life outside her Palatine Township home. He initially was sentenced to death, but that was commuted to life without parole by then-Gov. George Ryan in 2003.
Authorities alleged Kliner killed the 28-year-old Rinaldi at the behest of his childhood friend -- and the victim's husband -- Joseph Rinaldi.
In the years since, Kliner and his attorneys have argued that new evidence has surfaced that could clear him if he were given another trial. That new evidence included DNA from the crime scene that fails to link Kliner to the murder, evidence casting doubt on the credibility of prosecution witnesses, an alibi, and testimony connecting another man to the killing.
Supporters are planning a gathering at 1:30 p.m. Oct. 29, at the Cook County courthouse in Rolling Meadows.