Woman testifies in Brown's Chicken murder trial

September 2, 2009 3:31:48 PM PDT
A woman who claims she was friends with the two men accused of committing the 1993 Brown's Chicken murders took the witness stand on Wednesday in the murder trial of James Degorski. Eileen Bakalla testified that both Degorski and Juan Luna confessed to her that they were responsible for killing the seven people inside the restaurant.

Luna is already serving life in prison for the crime.

A parent who loses a child may never heal from that wound. On Wednesday, that pain was evident when Diane Clayton took the stand. Her body trembling, she recounted the day she came to Chicago in 1993 to identify her dead son. Marcus Nellson was among seven people murdered at the Brown's Chicken and Pasta restaurant in Palatine.

James Degorski is on trial for the murders. His high school friend Juan Luna was convicted for the murders in 2007.

On Wednesday, a friend of Degorski's testified that Luna and Degorski told her about the crimes they committed.

Eileen Bakalla testified that she picked up Luna and Degorski the night of the murders. After dropping off Luna she testified: "We were on our way to Jim's parents house and he asked me to drive by the Brown's Chicken." She goes on to testify: "He told me Juan went ballistic and he took the knife and slit the owner's throat from ear to ear."

Under cross examination Bakalla was asked: "You got $50 that was proceeds of a robbery?" "Right," she said.

Bakalla testified that she said nothing to authorities for nine years because she didn't want to get in trouble. And she testified that she couldn't remember exact dates and times when things were said.

Defense attorney Mark Levitt asked, "As you sit here today you're not sure about a lot of this?" She reponds, "Yup."

Bakalla's ex-husband also testified on Wednesday recalling what Bakalla told him about Degorski: "They were involved in something big and mentioned Brown's Chicken."

Under cross examination: Bakalla's ex-husband was asked. "You didn't think much of this?" "Not terribly," he responded.

Degorski's ex-girlfriend who says the two allegedly confessed to her has not testified yet in the trial. She may testify after the Labor Day holiday.


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