WAUKEGAN, Illinois — A suburban Chicago judge ordered new evidence tests in the case of a woman serving a life sentence for killing the pregnant girlfriend of former Chicago Bears player Shaun Gayle in 2007.
Lake County Circuit Court Judge Christopher Stride on Thursday signed an order to test bullet shell casings used to kill Rhoni Reuter, 42, of Deerfield, WMAQ-TV (http://bit.ly/1rZtxKZ ) reported. Marni Yang of Deerfield was convicted in 2011 in Reuter's death, which prosecutors alleged was a meticulously planned killing of someone Yang viewed as a rival for the football player's affection.
Jed Stone, Yang's defense attorney, said he has found a prominent DNA expert to extract a small sample of skin cells from the shell casings. The new test will reveal the true identity of the killer, Stone said.
Prosecutors have no objection to Stone's request, according to Assistant State's Attorney Ari Fisz.
Yang was charged in March 2009, entered a not guilty plea the following month, and convicted of first-degree murder two years later.
After she was convicted in Lake County Circuit Court, Yang's appeal was denied in the 2nd District Appellate Court. The Illinois Supreme Court also refused to hear her case. But now Stone is assembling a post-conviction petition to bring new evidence that wasn't heard during the initial trial.
"I know her trial was highly watched, and the evidence seemed overwhelming," Stone said. "But we are on a truth-seeking mission."
Gayle testified during the trial, saying he and Yang had a sporadic sexual relationship, and he had met with her the night before Reuter was killed. Prosecutors said jealousy led Yang to kill Reuter because she was pregnant with Gayle's child.
Investigators presented police wire taps from 2009 in which Yang was heard discussing murder with a friend.
Before Reuter's killing, Yang ordered books explaining how to silence a handgun and purchased the necessary materials, according to testimony. Authorities said Yang also searched Reuter's address on the Internet, and wore a disguise the day of the slaying.
Yang is being held at the Dwight Correctional Center. She won't be eligible for parole if her remaining appeals are unsuccessful.
Information from: WMAQ-TV.
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