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Prosecutor: Degorski 'wanted to do something big'

Brown's Chicken murder trial underway
August 31, 2009 2:26:34 PM PDT
James Degorski didn't want money when he killed seven people at a Palatine fast food restaurant in 1993, according to prosecutors. He "wanted to do something big," said Lou Longhitano, assistant state's attorney, during opening statements for the second suspect in the Brown's Chicken and Pasta Restaurant massacre. The killings were considered a cold case until 2002, when Degorski and Juan Luna were arrested after a tip from an ex-girlfriend. In 2007, Luna was convicted in the murder.

However, the cases are different because Luna made a videotaped confession and his DNA was found on a chicken dinner taken as police gathered evidence at the crime scene. There's a lack of hard evidence in Degorski's case. Legal experts expect it to be more of an uphill struggle.

"We have circumstantial evidence that he committed the crime. We have circumstantial evidence that he was involved and that he actually committed the murders," said Thomas Glasgow, attorney, legal expert.

Prosecutors said on Monday during opening statements that while $1,400 was taken from Brown's Chicken and Pasta Restaurant, money was not the motive.

"(Degorski) made a big splash in the blood of seven innocent victims," said Longhitano.

Victims' families have waited a long time for this second trial. But it's the second time in two years they've had to hear the details of their loved one's deaths.

"It's extremely emotional and it's very hard for all of us, especially my mother," said Mary Nunez, victim Marcus Nellson's sister. "I don't think any of us will have any closure. We want things to go on and have justice, but I don't think we'll ever have closure."

Degorski, 36, wore a green shirt and olive tie to the trial. He listened closely as prosecutors described how he and Luna shot and stabbed seven people. Degorski's ex-girlfriend, who told police he had confessed to the crime, will be a star witness in the trial. She said she waited to come forward because Degorski threatened to kill her.


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