Defense takes turn in Degorski trial

September 15, 2009 2:50:24 PM PDT
Defense attorneys began presenting their case in the murder trial of James Degorski, who is accused in the 1993 Brown's Chicken massacre.The first witness to testify on behalf of Degorski on Tuesday was James Bell, who headed the police task force investigating the killings. Bell headed the investigation into the murders at the Palatine restaurant for five years.

Degorski's alleged accomplice, Juan Luna, was convicted in the murders in 2007 after his DNA and a partial palm print were found at the Brown's Chicken and Pasta Restaurant.

There is no forensic evidence connection Degorski to the scene.

On Tuesday, Bell told the jurors he took over the task force in 1995 and found there was evidence missing.

"The clothing of the victims had never been scrapped for hairs and fibers or any other trace evidence that may be on the clothes," Bell said. He also said a shoe print was never identified. "This, in my opinion, was a shoe print that belonged to an offender."

Bell, who is not a sworn officer, testified he focused on two other suspects for more than two years. "When I retired I still considered them suspects," Bell said.

Under cross examination, Bell testified one suspect changed his story several times and described his confession as a vision. Bell testified that the description of visions raised a red flag. Under cross examination, Bell was asked about his opinion of the other two suspects today.

"I would not consider them suspects today," Bell said before he left the witness stand:


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