Long road to justice for family of Kelli O'Laughlin; Murder suspect John Wilson represents self at court

February 6, 2013 8:29:59 PM PST
The wheels of justice turn slowly for John and Brenda O'Laughlin. Their daughter, 14-year-old Kelli O'Laughlin, was killed during a home invasion in 2011.

The man accused of killing her, John Wilson, is defending himself, which leads to delays and a spotlight of sorts at the Cook County Circuit Courthouse. For the O'Laughlins, coming to court is a familiar routine. On Wednesday, they attended their 18th court hearing for the man accused of murdering their daughter.

"This is our daughter we're dealing with - and we need to be able to represent her and be there for her because she has no rights," Brenda O'Laughlin, mother, said.

While Wilson stands in the front of the courtroom acting as his own attorney and making motion after motion during Wednesday's status hearing, the O'Laughlins sit in the back row watching and worrying.

"The court is for the defendant. It's not for the victim or the victim's family and he keeps telling us that. It only helps marginally but it's certainly one thing I keep in mind," John O'Laughlin, father, said.

"The last court date we had was an all-day event and it took a good two days to recover from that because it's very draining and it's very emotional," Brenda O'Laughlin said.

The O'Laughlins are comforted by their Lyons township community, Kelli's countless friends, and the investigators who made the murder of the14 year-old girl not only personal, but a priority, as well. Several of the detectives who worked the case attend many of the court hearings simply to offer support.

"We wouldn't be able to stand in the courtroom facing him without their support. It's been wonderful," Brenda O'Laughlin said.

The O'Laughlins never speak the name of the man accused of killing Kelli. They say it's hard enough to face him time after time in court. But there will likely come a time when they'll be called to testify about that awful day when a young girl came home from school and interrupted a robbery.

"They said we're going to probably have to say something in court on the witness stand and that frightened me. So we had to get used to it. We had to get used to being in court," John O'Laughlin said.

"In my eyes justice will never be served. Kelli will never come back. So no matter what happens to this person, at the end of the day, Kelli won't be back," Brenda O'Laughlin said.

On Wednesday, prosecutors turned over 2,600 pages of reports from the investigation. Wilson will appear in court next on March 21, 2013.

The O'Laughlins have set up a memorial fund in Kelli's name at http://kellijoyolaughlinmemorialfund.com/