Defense lawyers in a high-profile murder case recently filed a motion asking the judge to recuse himself and asking for a trial date in June 2019. The motions demonstrate the seriousness of the allegations against the defendant and also the complex issues faced by criminal defense attorneys in preparing such a case for trial.
The case involves the alleged kidnapping and murder of a professor at the University of Illinois. The victim was a Chinese woman who disappeared on June 9, 2017, while she was on her way to rent an apartment. Prosecutors allege that the woman had missed her bus and the defendant lured her into his car. Her body has never been found.
The prosecution has served notice that it intends to seek the death penalty if the defendant is found guilty. The motion for recusal is believed to relate to the judge’s position on the death penalty, but the specific basis for the recusal motion has not been disclosed. The other motion – to delay the trial – is predicated on the enormous amount of evidence that the defense lawyers must review and analyze. The evidence comprises thousands of documents, 14 disks of wiretapped phone calls, a DNA report, and data from seven computer hard drives and four cell phones. If the defendant were to be found guilty, the death penalty portion of the trial could add three weeks to a proceeding that is already estimated to last two weeks.
The seriousness of the consequences faced by the defendant in this case cannot be overstated. Anyone who faces such charges may wish to seek the counsel of an experienced defense attorney. A knowledgeable lawyer can evaluate evidence and formulate an effective defense strategy. Should such a case go to trial, an effective defense lawyer is essential to protecting the defendant’s rights.
Source: Belleville News-Democrat, “Suspect in scholar kidnapping asks judge to recuse himself,” Michael Tarm, Feb. 8, 2018