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Court Documents

The trial timeline

Wednesday, March 28 - Jury selection begins
Potential jurors will be asked to fill out questionnaires about their criminal histories, if any, other encounters with the law (lawsuits or past jury service, for example), their feelings on capital punishment and what, if anything, they have heard about Juan Luna and the murders at the Palatine Brown’s restaurant. They will then be questioned by attorneys on both sides. Attorneys are selecting a jury of 16 - 12 jurors and four alternates.
Week of April 9 - Opening statements expected
The date of opening statements will depend on how long jury selection takes. During opening statements, each side will spell out what it believes the evidence shows about Luna’s involvement in the murders.
Prosecution case
Prosecutors are expected to take several weeks presenting evidence against Luna. They will call as witnesses two high school friends who told police nine years after the murders that Luna and Jim Degorski told them their role in the slayings. About 25 percent of the testimony is expected to be about the DNA match prosecutors say they found between Luna and a partially eaten chicken dinner found at the crime scene. Palatine police and other investigators are expected to testify.
Defense case
Defense attorneys will attempt to show through their own witnesses why prosecutors have charged the wrong man. They claim Luna was not involved in the slayings and may discuss other men who were suspected of the murders during the nine years between the murders and Luna’s arrest.
Rebuttal case
Prosecutors will call more witnesses. One rebuttal witness may be renowned forensic scientist Dr. Henry Lee, who is known for his work on a number of high-profile criminal cases, including the O.J. Simpson trial and Jon Benet Ramsey murder.
Closing statements
Closing statements are the final chance for attorneys on both sides to sum up the evidence — that it shows Luna did or did not murder seven people in 1993.
Jury deliberations
Jurors weigh the evidence and issue a verdict.
• If he is found guilty, sentencing phase begins. Jurors will first decide whether the case is eligible for the death penalty. Then they will decide whether to sentence Luna to life in prison or to death.
• If found not guilty, he will be released from Cook County jail, where he is currently held without bond.
Source: Daily Herald interviews


More stories from the trial

10/22/2009
Palatine official wants closure on Brown's reward
Degorski being prepared for prison transfer
10/21/2009
Brown's jury spares James Degorski's life
Images after Degorski life sentence
No matter how you feel about the death penalty, it's flawed
Degorski's new life: Controlled, daunting, dangerous
Most jurors wanted the death penalty
Victim's mom: "He deserved to lose his life, too"
Palatine officials see end to dark chapter in village history
10/20/2009
Degorski jury begins death penalty deliberations
Brown's killer's mom: Son endured physical, sexual abuse
10/17/2009
Experts testify Degorski not a psychopath
10/16/2009
Degorski 'damaged' by childhood abuse, expert says
10/15/2009
Juror replaced as court hears more testimony about Degorski family life
10/9/2009
Victims' families wait as lawyers discuss Degorski case
10/8/2009
Psychologist says Degorski would adjust to prison
Illinois death penalty takes time
10/7/2009
Prosecution key witness says Degorski 'a lover, not a fighter'
10/6/2009
Degorski's friends decry 'disgusting picture painted of him'
10/5/2009
Jail officials say James Degorski is 'model' inmate
10/4/2009
Dark clouds lifts for innocent man eyed in Brown's Chicken killings
10/2/2009
Ehlenfeldt daughter: Brown's killing 'small and cowardly'
Victims' families confront convicted killer James Degorski
Statements from Brown's victims families
10/1/2009
Palatine councilman turns attention toward paying reward
Quick capital murder verdicts not rare, even without scientific evidence
9/30/2009
Degorski eligible for death penalty in Brown's Chicken murders
Jury deliberating Degorski eligibility for death
Degorski guilty of Brown's Chicken murders
Images of Degorski Brown's Chicken verdict
Verdict brings closure to Palatine police officers
Jury returns to decide on death penalty
Key points of the defense case
Key points of the prosecution case
Palatine mayors past and present express relief
9/29/2009
Both sides make final pitch to Degorski jury
Jury out in Brown's Chicken mass murder trial
Verdict in Brown's Chicken trial at 5 p.m
Jury deliberated 11 hours in first Brown's trial
Key points in the Degorski trial
9/27/2009
Degorski trial winding down without jury hearing 'confession' tape
9/25/2009
Testimony ends in Brown's case
9/24/2009
Prosecutors present final witnesses in Degorski case
9/23/2009
Defense rests in 2nd Brown's Chicken murder trial
9/22/2009
Witnesses describe search for Brown's murder weapon
9/18/2009
Palatine police chief testifies to leaks in Brown's Chicken investigation
9/17/2009
Ex-Brown's worker accuses police of pressuring false confession
9/16/2009
Brown's prosecution strategy debated
Degorski defense points to false confession
9/15/2009
Witness: Degorski asked if God would forgive murder
9/13/2009
Photos, videotape and ex-girlfriend's testimony focus of Degorski trial
9/11/2009
Brown's witness: Bloody footprints from a cop
9/10/2009
Degorski ex-girlfriend says she'll never forget confession
9/9/2009
Expert describes wounds that killed Brown's victims
9/6/2009
Prosecutors climb uphill battle in first week of Brown's Chicken trial
9/4/2009
Innocent explanation for second chicken's DNA?
9/3/2009
Star state witness tells of keeping Brown's secret
9/2/2009
Scientist describes food evidence in Brown's case
9/1/2009
Prosecutor: Brown's Chicken killings about 'thrills,' doing 'something big'
8/31/2009
Second Brown's Chicken slayings trial begins today
8/30/2009
Trial of 2nd Brown's suspect offers little comfort for victims' families
Degorski jury profile: Six men, six women
Palatine residents eager for Brown's ordeal to end
8/16/2009
Degorski jury complete, as four alternates selected
8/15/2009
Degorski juror replaced before selection process completed
8/14/2009
More potential Degorski jurors sent home
8/13/2009
Dozens questioned for Brown's murder jury, but none added
8/12/2009
More potential Degorski jurors dismissed
The James Degorski trial
Eight jurors impaneled in Brown's case
8/11/2009
Two years later, trial still vivid for jury of first Brown's case
Questioning of jurors begins in Brown's case
8/10/2009
What the jury in the latest Brown's Chicken murder trial will face
The Juan Luna trial
The scene of the crime
8/7/2009
Jury selection under way in second Brown's Chicken murder case
8/4/2009
Second Brown's Chicken trial more circumstantial than first
8/2/2009
Brown's Chicken murders case could be entering final phase
Who's who in the Brown's murders
The crime and the aftermath
7/2/2008
Degorski appeals ruling on videotape
3/20/2008
Tapes of interview with Brown's Chicken witness stay with NBC
9/5/2007
Second Brown's Chicken murder trial will start in February
9/4/2007
Date set for James Degorski's trial in Brown's Chicken case
5/20/2007
Juror who voted to spare Luna's life 'at peace' with her decision
What it was like to be a Brown's juror
5/18/2007
Thoughtfulness saved life of man who didn't think of others
Palatine residents split over Luna's sentence
Families' reactions reflect split views of justice
Trial 'took a toll on us all'
5/16/2007
Joy Ehlenfeldt's victim impact statement
'Violence does not end violence'
Circle of grief
One family tells of the grief Luna brought to them, to his own family
5/15/2007
Juan Luna found eligible for death penalty, some victims' families stand vigil
Jury says Luna eligible for execution
Luna found eligible for the death penalty
5/14/2007
Luna jury to decide life/death issue
Jurors must now decide on whether Luna lives, dies
5/13/2007
Luna's family prays for 'mercy, understanding'
Pondering death for Luna
5/12/2007
Should reward be paid?
Degorski's fate intertwined with Luna's
Now, should Brown's reward be paid?
5/11/2007
Village of Palatine statement on Luna verdict
Ehlenfeldt daughter's statement regarding guilty verdict in Brown's case
Suburbanites will always carry sadness for Brown's victims
Death Penalty hearing up next
How verdict could affect case against Degorski
Palatine ready to leave stain of slayings behind
'We can finally exhale'
5/9/2007
Luna prosecutor's closing points to DNA, prints
What the jury will have to consider
Key elements of the prosecution
The defense's case
5/4/2007
DNA experts at odds as testimony wraps up
5/3/2007
Sergeant concedes Palatine police "got an innocent man to confess"
Witnesses debate probability of DNA matching Luna
5/2/2007
Prosecution calls confession by another man blatantly coerced
Sergeant details earlier confession
5/1/2007
Brown's defense witness: Luna's confession flawed; DNA unreliable
Luna's confession contradicts evidence, expert says
Scientist didn't wear gloves
4/30/2007
Big trial, big mistakes
4/27/2007
Defense points to non-matching prints
4/26/2007
Jury watches videotaped confession
4/25/2007
Witness says maturity finally made her come forward
4/19/2007
Forensics expert testifies Luna's DNA is a match
Some DNA on dinner wasn't from Luna
Expert: Napkin print had to be Luna's
Not just Luna's DNA left on chicken
4/18/2007
Famed crime scientist says half-eaten meal was immediate clue
Luna gave her 'heebie-jeebies'
Woman: I didn't want friend to get in trouble over Brown's killings
Woman says she didn't want friend to get in trouble over Brown's killings
4/17/2007
Former friend of suspect testifies about waiting 9 years to talk to police
Forensic scientist tells how she preserved DNA evidence
4/16/2007
Brown's testimony focuses on DNA find
4/15/2007
Stating their cases
4/14/2007
Devine slips up on opening remarks
Haunting images
4/13/2007
Opening statements start in the Brown's murder trial
Opening statements start in the Brown's murder trial
What the jury will hear
4/5/2007
Long search for answers in Brown's Chicken murders is now in court
4/4/2007
Four more jurors picked for Luna trial
3/31/2007
4 seated- 12 to go for Brown's trial jury
3/30/2007
First 2 jurors chosen in Brown's trial
3/29/2007
Brown's task force hoping time is on its side
Duty-bound 150 people in court learn they could be on the jury
Brown's tipster tells her story
Possible lead in Brown's Chicken case
Brown's defense wants own DNA tests
DNA match sought in Brown's case
BGA, Palatine at odds over handling of Brown's probe
Study's verdict: Brown's investigation was sloppy
3/28/2007
Jury selection begins in Brown's trial
Two held in Brown's murders
Luna's dream team
Jury selection won't be easy
Judge sets tough rules
Brown's suspects had plans to do'something big,' authorities say
After 12 hours, divers unable to findBrown's murder weapon
How scientist's foresight led to preservation of clues in Brown's Chicken murder case
Jury selection begins in Brown's trial
8/27/1999
Brown's murders remain unsolved
1/7/1999
Investigators vow not to give up on Brown's case
8/25/1998
New prints studied in Brown's murders
12/2/1997
Panel promises to be objective on Brown's report
11/23/1997
Police still optimistic on solving Brown's murders
4/23/1997
America's Most Wanted to spotlight Brown's case
8/21/1996
Police chiefs denounce probe into Brown's investigation
4/17/1996
Outside panel may review Brown's police investigation
1/30/1996
Psychic offers her insight in Brown's murders
1/10/1996
New clues result in 65 fresh leads for Brown's task force
12/8/1995
Judge to decide on release of details in Brown's killings
4/27/1995
Noted ex-FBI specialist takes reins in Brown's murder case
1/11/1994
'Would you feel safe working in a fast-food restaurant?'
Brown's president builds campaign to combat crime
Owners, workers return to routine
Site of closed restaurant keeps immediate neighbors on alert
1/9/1994
Brown's probe: By the numbers
Bratcher defends police work, scolds media
Inside the task force
For investigators, 'You're always thinking about it'
1/8/1994
Investigators try to balance prosecution, public pressure
Elgin man who was arrested sues village
'A time to remember' seven lives
The investigation: then and now
What's your opinion of the police investigation?
1/7/1994
The toll on the families
Pain lives one year after massacre
2/13/1993
Phone tips keeping detectives on move
2/7/1993
Victim's family marks bittersweet birthday
'We'll never forget, but we'll go on'
2/6/1993
Cash Station users eyed as possible witnesses
Police still tracking more than 100 leads on massacre
Tab for murder investigation tops $35,700
2/1/1993
Palatine police await word from Tenn.
1/31/1993
Brown's tragedy builds cultural bridges
1/30/1993
Glare of publicity has dimmed, but families' grief strong as ever
Families divided on future of Brown's
Police say song's description of murder a coincidence
1/28/1993
Brady: Killings illustrate need for gun laws
Police in demand to check businesses' security
Restaurant-security seminar tapping interest
1/26/1993
Village announces reward has reached $100,000 goal
Ehlenfeldt daughters to decide Brown's fate
Palatine sales tax covers village cost of investigation
1/24/1993
Investigators finish up at Brown's restaurant
1/17/1993
Seminar addresses fears about working teens
Bratcher: Victims died quickly
Hucksters try to cash in on community fear
The crime scene: What may have happened
Service helps family, friends pay tribute to Solis' kindness
The events surrounding the Palatine killings
Murders recall tragic deaths of firefighters
1/16/1993
Response-time dispute unresolved, Mullins says
Teen held, but on old charges
Students seek advice from police concerning safety at workplace
1/15/1993
Police enhance staffing, technology of task force
Minister: 'Evil has come' here
Deputy Police Chief Gasior on the firing line
Palatine police defend efforts to find slaying witnesses
Mourners remember uncomplaining, caring man
1/14/1993
Suburban police handle barrage of restaurant security questions
Victims fund nets $13,500
Suburban police handle barrage of restaurant security questions
Palatine students collect $3,000 for slain schoolmates' families
Mourners struggle to find peace in the face of grief
Sketch of killer rejects usual mass murderer case
Palatine investigation widens
Victims fund nets $13,500
1/13/1993
Eighth-grader puts fears into words
What is known about the crime?
Gasior: Families' calls handled as 'routine' incidents
Mullins seeks meeting to solve discrepancies
Investigation may hinge on the tiniest evidence
Victims remembered through tears of friends, family
The worst mass homicides in recent history
Police have odds with them, but time remains the enemy
Blake gun ruled out as murder weapon
Community responds to funds for families
Report: Was some key investigative time lost?
1/12/1993
Team handles all the facets of mass murder investigation
The law on questioning, arrests
Pamphlet addresses work violence
Gray area clouds rights of suspect in custody
Suspect freed, probe continues
Security seminar urges Palatine merchants to be suspicious
Dad laments Blake's role as '8th victim'
O'Malley: 'I'm not giving anyone false assurance'
Horror gives way to desire to help out
New beginning cut short for Brown's trainee
Blake's attorney possesses background in murder cases
Family plans memorial services for Ehlenfeldts in Buffalo Grove
Born: 'Blake's life turned upside down in last 48 hours'
Trustees urge residents to trust and support police officers' efforts
Volunteer work may have saved worker's life
1/11/1993
Friends find comfort by sharing memories
Teens recall Castro's enthusiasm
'Palatine Cares' fund to aid victims' families
Reflections on the tragedy
The search for clues
The official statements
Victims' families schedule visitations, funeral services
Restaurant's fate remains undetermined
In life, there is no safe haven from violence
School becomes 'haven' for outpouring of grief
Police balance public, legal concerns
'No words can describe what's happened'
Grieving students relieve pain by talking to counselors, peers
A new fear for parents: security where teens work
Other victims' nightmares rush back
1/10/1993
Rico Solis, student at Palatine
Deaths alter suburbs' sense of safety
Ex-employee questioned
Dick and Lynn Ehlenfeldt, hard-working owners
The seven victims
Police investigate revenge factor
Town finds lesson in scars from '84 massacre
Tragedy unfolds hour by hour
Colleagues can expect rough emotional time
Anxious parents question restaurants' security
Thomas Mennes, survived by twin brother
Michael Castro, budding auto mechanic
Marcus Nellsen, recently hired employee
Chaplains offer solace from storm of tragedy
Employees at other Brown's struggle with shock of deaths
Murders cast pall over Palatine High School
Murders haunt quiet suburb
Workers never feared for safety often leaving side door unlocked
Murders send shock waves rippling through Eagle Plaza
Many co-workers feel spared by fate
Editor recalls his involvement in restaurant holdup in 1981
Guadalupe Maldonado, recently moved from Mexico