Prosecutor asks judge to bar police from giving Daily Herald records in Elmhurst murder case

  • Ronald Dunbar

    Ronald Dunbar

 
 
Updated 8/26/2022 4:53 PM
Editor’s Note: Susan Sarkauskas is the reporter who filed the Freedom of Information Act Request.

The Daily Herald is asking a DuPage County judge for help obtaining police reports, videos and other records about a stabbing in Elmhurst in which a man was killed, but a prosecutor says the judge shouldn't allow the release of any such records.

The newspaper filed a Freedom of Information Act request on Aug. 10 with the city for records about the April 2021 death of 28-year-old Karl Bomba outside the Spring Inn bar.

 

Ronald Dunbar, 57, of Lombard has been charged with first-degree murder. His attorneys have argued he was defending himself.

Prosecutors have previously said there was a disagreement in the bar between Bomba and a bartender, and Bomba left. There was then an "altercation" outside the bar between Bomba, Dunbar and a third, unnamed individual, according to prosecutors. They have not provided much more detail.

Authorities, including police and prosecutors, have declined to answer the Daily Herald's requests for more information as the newspaper looks into Dunbar's self-defense claim.

The city had through the end of the day Aug. 17 to respond to the Daily Herald's records request but didn't. When questioned about that, a deputy clerk said there was no record of the request. The Daily Herald agreed to an extension. The city's reply was due Friday, but it has requested another extension, partly at the request of prosecutors.

On Monday, Assistant State's Attorney Claudia Fantauzzo filed a request asking Judge Ann Celine O'Hallaren Walsh to bar Elmhurst police and any other law enforcement agency from releasing any records.

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On Thursday, the Daily Herald's attorney, Brendan Healey, filed requests to be heard on the matter and for the judge to deny Fantauzzo's request.

Fantauzzo wrote in her request that "allowing this information and evidence to be published through various media outlets and disseminated to the public would only inflame potential jurors, compromise the impartiality of potential jurors, and deprive the defendant of a fair trial." She also wrote it would "impede the orderly administration of justice."

But one of Dunbar's attorneys, Dan Cummings, told Walsh on Friday morning that he objects to barring the police from releasing the material.

Walsh replied the concern about a fair trial "doesn't just go to the defense. That goes to everybody involved."

Healey argued in his petition that there are less restrictive ways the court can ensure that an impartial jury is selected. He also argued the prosecutor's request was an attempt to "sidestep" the state's FOIA law. Under that law, government records, including police records, are presumed to be open to the public, with certain exceptions. When records are denied, the requester has the right to appeal the decision to the state attorney general.

The judge will hear arguments on Sept. 23.

Healey asked for an earlier date, given the city was supposed to respond to the FOIA request by Friday. "This is newsworthy material the Daily Herald has sought and is being stymied as we speak," he told Walsh.

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