Font size: +

Police say DNA helped solve 30-year-old murder

The Chicago Tribune
BYLINE: Art Barnum, Tribune reporter,
Link to Article


Chicago, IL

Trial of deaf man in girlfriend's fatal stabbing may involve up to 3 sign-language interpreters

CT  MET-AJ-GARY-ALBERT
Gary Albert was arrested in 2008 and charged with killing his pregnant girlfriend in 1981. (March 6, 2008)

Dawn Niles was last seen alive March 17, 1981, when she left Hinsdale South High School with her boyfriend Gary Albert.

Five days later, a fisherman found her body in a southwest suburban Cook County forest preserve. The 15-year-old La Grange Park girl, three months' pregnant, had been stabbed repeatedly, authorities said.

Now, 30 years later, Albert, 48, of Sugar Grove, faces murder charges for the slaying with a trial date expected to be set later this summer. He was charged with first-degree murder in 2008, after his DNA was linked to the victim's body, according to Cook County sheriff's police.

The trial is expected to present a number of logistical issues for both prosecutors and defense because the defendant and some of the witnesses are hearing-impaired. A recent pretrial hearing raised the possibility of using as many as three sign language interpreters at the same time.

Niles and Albert belonged to the high school's drama club for the deaf and the local chapter of the Junior Illinois Association for the Deaf.

Prosecutors plan to present statements Niles allegedly made to friends that Albert not only knew about her pregnancy, but that they fought over it. She reportedly told friends that Albert didn't want to take responsibility for the child and suggested she tell her parents that she had either been raped or impregnated by someone else, according to court filings.

A defense lawyer for Albert calls those statements improper hearsay and argued against them, claiming they "infuse undue prejudice," records show.

Albert has pleaded not guilty, and his lawyer has argued in pretrial motions that it can't be proved that Albert was aware of the pregnancy and that he had no motive to commit such a crime.

Arrested in 2008 at his Sugar Grove home, Albert was questioned for seven hours by Cook County sheriff's police, who were aided by a Chicago police officer versed to some degree in sign language, according to records.

Albert's defense attorneys argued unsuccessfully in pretrial motions that the Chicago officer wasn't proficient enough to be considered legally qualified in American Sign Language to make sure that Albert understood his Miranda rights as well as assist in the interrogation.

The defense attorneys also argued that police shouldn't have talked to Albert at all, because his "invocation (of remaining silent) was clear and unambiguous for 27 years."

Albert, who was working as a packager at a General Mills plant in West Chicago at the time of his arrest, is free on $1 million bail.

In April 2005 he pleaded guilty to unlawful videotaping of his stepdaughter, a misdemeanor, court records show. Albert was ordered by a judge to undergo a psychiatric evaluation and pay for the girl's counseling.

Niles' sister Heather Hunziker in 2006 helped persuade Cook County sheriff's police to take another look at the case.

This time, with the assistance of DNA technology and new interviews, a Cook County grand jury indicted Albert on first-degree murder charges in 2008.

Dr. Robert Kirschner, a now-deceased Cook County deputy medical examiner, performed the autopsy on the teenager and preserved a semen sample on a vaginal swab, court records show.

The DNA match allegedly places Albert with Niles about the time of her disappearance, sheriff's police said.

"It's still a very rough time," said Hunziker, who plans to attend the trial with family members. "Nothing has changed since his arrest."

PHOTOS:

Eric Caine: Released after 25 years in prison
Eric Caine, who says he was beaten into confessing to a double murder by detectives under disgraced former Chicago police Cmdr. Jon Burge, was released from prison on Thursday, March 17, 2011, a quarter of a century after his arrest in 1986. Caine, arrested in 1986 for the murder of an elderly couple, was ordered released by a Cook County judge on the same day Burge reported to federal prison.

2011-06-12_INT_Police say DNA helped solve 30-year-old murder_02
Out the door - Eric Caine (far right), walks out of the Menard Correctional Center with his legal team while his girlfriend, Sara Bush, waits for their reunion. (David Pierini, Tribune / March 17, 2011)


2011-06-12_INT_Police say DNA helped solve 30-year-old murder_03
Welcoming - Eric Caine, followed by his legal team, walks out of the Menard Correctional Center into the arms of his girlfriend, Sara Bush. (David Pierini, Tribune / March 17, 2011)


2011-06-12_INT_Police say DNA helped solve 30-year-old murder_04
Free kiss - Eric Caine kisses his girlfriend, Sara Bush, after walking out of the Menard Correctional Center. (David Pierini, Tribune / March 17, 2011)


2011-06-12_INT_Police say DNA helped solve 30-year-old murder_05
Walking away - After his release, Eric Caine (left) walks with his girlfriend Sara Bush, attorney Russell Ainsworth and investigator Elliott Slosar. (David Pierini, Tribune / March 17, 2011)


2011-06-12_INT_Police say DNA helped solve 30-year-old murder_06
Waving goodbye - Eric Caine (left) and his girlfriend Sara Bush acknowledge a well-wisher in the parking lot of Menard Correctional Center. (David Pierini, Tribune / March 17, 2011)


2011-06-12_INT_Police say DNA helped solve 30-year-old murder_07
Stops to talk - Eric Caine talks after walking out of the Menard Correctional Center in Chester, Ill. (David Pierini, Tribune / March 17, 2011)


2011-06-12_INT_Police say DNA helped solve 30-year-old murder_08
Eric Caine - Eric Caine talked to Tribune reporters in 2003 while imprisoned for a double murder at Menard Correctional Facility. (Abel Uribe, Chicago Tribune / November 11, 2003)


2011-06-12_INT_Police say DNA helped solve 30-year-old murder_09
Overlooked case - "I'm the forgotten innocent," said Eric Caine in 2003 when interviewed by the Chicago Tribune at Menard Correctional Faciltiy. Caine felt his case was lost amid the attention paid to the state's Death Row inmates. (Abel Uribe, Chicago Tribune / November 11, 2003)

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
International Association for Property and Evidence
"Law Enforcement Serving the Needs of Law Enforcement"
www.IAPE.org
Former police detective accused of stealing $200K
9 of 10 arrested in HPD locker raid indicted

Related Posts

 

Blotter - Latest News

News by Date

Search IAPE

This login form is for IAPE Staff ONLY!