A Lake County judge this morning ordered prosecutors to turn over the name of a man whose DNA matches blood found at the murder scene of a prominent Waukegan businessman in 1994.
Prosecutors must provide the name to the attorney for another man who has been in prison for 15 years for the killing of appliance store owner Fred Reckling.
James L. Edwards, 62, was convicted in 1996 of killing Reckling, 71, who was bludgeoned to death while closing his store, Grand Appliance and TV. Last month, following an order from the Illinois Supreme Court, prosecutors learned that blood found on carpet and in the victim’s car matches a man in a national DNA database of offenders.
Today, Edwards’ attorney, Paul DeLuca, filed a motion to produce evidence, asking the state to produce the name and other identifying information about the person who the DNA has been matched to.
“The defendant is unaware at this time whether the state will take any action to investigate this matter further and the defense is entitled to conduct their own investigation,” the motion states.
Assistant State’s Attorney Michael Mermel said that there is an ongoing investigation into the matter and argued that he has been forthcoming with the defense with everything except for the name of the match, which he said has been withheld to protect the man’s right to privacy.
“The individual is gainfully employed, not in custody and has not been charged with anything by the state’s attorney’s office,” Mermel said.
Mermel added that he was not opposed to the defense doing its own investigation into the matter but was concerned about balancing the “defendant’s rights with the rights of an individual who has not been charged with anything.”
Judge John Phillips ordered that the prosecution turn over the name of the individual to the defense, but issued a protective order so only DeLuca and his investigators will be allowed to view the name, “pending the state’s further investigation.”
Both sides are due back in court on Aug. 10. The prosecution has until July 12 to turn over the name and identifying information to the defense.
Edwards has said he was coerced into confessing to Reckling’s murder. Since his Lake County conviction, Edwards was found guilty in an Ohio murder and received a second life sentence for that crime.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun