DuPage County prosecutors will be allowed to present evidence at trial that a man accused of killing an alleged Wheaton drug dealer in 1999 may have been involved in another murder a month earlier, a judge ruled Thursday.
Raymond Winters, 42, formerly of Chicago and Michigan City, will be retried in June for the murder of Aldis Tucker, 32, who was shot several times on the front lawn of his Wheaton home. Tucker was returning home after being questioned at the Wheaton police station about alleged illegal drug activities, authorities said.
Winters was charged in 2009 in Tucker’s slaying and brought to trial last year, but a jury in December could not agree on a verdict.
Prosecutors claimed at the trial that Winters, accompanied by two other men, had staked out the victim's home in the 1200 block of Reading Court on July 28, 1999, and planned to either rob him or kidnap him and hold him hostage. Evidence at the trial showed that Winters was present, but defense attorneys claimed that he didn't kill the victim and wasn't unaware of a plan to do so.
Winters is the only person who has been charged with the Wheaton murder.
A common legal standard is that a defendant's criminal past is not allowed to be introduced at trial in order to avoid prejudicing the jury. However, courts have eased that rule in some cases if prosecutors can show a similar method of operation in committing past crimes and the crime for which the defendant is on trial.
Assistant State's Attorney Joseph Ruggiero in January asked Judge George Bakalis to allow prosecutors at Winter's retrial to introduce evidence that he was involved in four specific unsolved Cook County murders from the 1990s.
Bakalis ruled previously that the claims that Winters was involved in four other murders would not be allowed, but at a hearing Thursday, he ruled that information about one of the alleged murders could be introduced.
Ruggiero said that police believe that Winters was involved in the June 1999 kidnapping and murder of Darryl Green, who was taken from a Broadview store, held for ransom, beaten and found dead in Indiana.
“The case is uncharged, not unsolved,” said Ruggiero.
Bakalis said the law requires him to balance the probative effects of the information versus the prejudicial effects, and while he ruled previously that the introduction of four alleged murders was too prejudicial, he agreed that some of the information about the Green murder could be introduced at trial.
Ruggiero claims that the Green crime was committed by the same three suspects involved in the Tucker crime. In both crimes, a 9 millimeter handgun was used, as well as duct tape, surveillance, walkie-talkies and the same van, and both occurred a month apart. Also, police have a tape recording of a telephone ransom request that they claim has Winters' voice on it.
Assistant Public Defender Jaime Escuder fought the inclusion of the Green murder, calling it “incredibly prejudicial.” He noted that one of the witnesses against Winters was one of his alleged accomplices who testified before a grand jury that Winters fired the fatal shots into Tucker, but then recanted his testimony on the witness stand at trial.
“Utterly worthless testimony by a convict who lies at every occasion,” Escuder said.
Winters has been sentenced five previous times to prison sentences, according to previous testimony, and was charged with the Winters' murder after information from a prison informant prompted authorities to reexamine the case.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun