CHICAGO — A man convicted of one of the Chicago area’s most infamous crimes is seeking a court hearing to review newly discovered evidence, saying a key prosecution witness allegedly lied to get a reward worth tens of thousands of dollars.
James Degorski was convicted in 2009 for killing seven workers at a Brown’s Chicken restaurant in Palatine 16 years prior, the Chicago Tribune (http://trib.in/2c9W9ve ) reported. The 44-year-old is serving a life sentence at Menard Correctional Center in southern Illinois.
A petition filed on behalf of Degorski says the witness, Anne Lockett, is “a troubled woman, prone to dishonesty.” It also alleges she had implicated another former boyfriend as well as Degorski during the incident.
Degorski’s lawyer, Jennifer Bonjean, said the jury wasn’t told Lockett would split a nearly $100,000 reward with a friend if Degorski was convicted.
A spokeswoman for the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office said it’s reviewing the filing and doesn’t have further comment.
In the petition, Bonjean also accuses the Palatine Police Department of coercing Degorski’s confession and alleges the department forced false statements from several suspects during the yearslong investigation. She alleged the Palatine police had obtained confessions to the slayings from at least five others who were never charged.
“The tactics used by this Police Department were producing false confessions left and right,” Bonjean told the newspaper.
The newspaper’s attempts to reach a Palatine police spokesman for comment haven’t
The petition emphasizes there wasn’t any physical evidence connecting Degorski to the slayings of restaurant owners Richard Ehlenfeldt and his wife, Lynn, as well as employees Thomas Mennes, Marcus Nellsen, Guadalupe Maldonado, Rico Solis and Michael Castro.
Two years before Degorski’s conviction, his co-defendant, Juan Luna, was convicted after being linked to the murders through DNA, a palm print and a lengthy video confession. Luna is also serving a life sentence.
Information from: Chicago Tribune, http://www.chicagotribune.com