Darker Portrait of Brown's Suspects Prosecutors Say Men Bragged about Other Crimes and Killings

By Toomey, Shamus | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), February 21, 2003 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Darker Portrait of Brown's Suspects Prosecutors Say Men Bragged about Other Crimes and Killings

Toomey, Shamus, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)

Byline: Shamus Toomey Daily Herald Staff Writer

The two men charged in the Palatine Brown's Chicken & Pasta slayings each were accused by prosecutors Thursday of bragging about old crimes - one of a stabbing and one of another murder.

Jim Degorski and Juan Luna, initially painted as mostly non- violent friends who pulled off one night of horror, now are being portrayed as leading lives filled with abuse and violence.

In documents filed Thursday in Cook County Criminal Court, prosecutors laid out the pasts of Luna, 29, and Degorski, 30, in vivid detail, with specifics culled from grand jury testimony, witness interviews and police records.

The information in the filings is known as "aggravation and mitigation" factors that prosecutors would not use at trial, but could use at a sentencing hearing, if it comes to that. Prosecutors already have announced they will seek the death penalty if the two are convicted.

In the filing Thursday, Degorski was accused of uttering a statement to a girlfriend more than a year before the Brown's killings that mirrors the motive offered by prosecutors for the seven Palatine murders. According to the girlfriend, prosecutors said, the former Hoffman Estates man repeatedly boasted he planned to do "something big" to become famous. That assertion strongly resembles the Palatine police theory of the motive.

The most serious new allegation lodged by prosecutors is that Degorski, while a student at Fremd High School between 1987 and 1992, bragged to a female friend that he once "killed a black guy in Minnesota." The friend, Melissa Oberle, was unclear if Degorski boasted of using a baseball bat or a gun to carry out the killing, according to the court filings.

Oberle, a former Palatine resident, confirmed in an interview Thursday that she told police of Degorski's boast months ago. She said Degorski made the claim to others in high school, but she said she dismissed it then and still questions whether he was lying.

Luna is accused in the filing of bragging to a man he met in 1997 that he once stabbed a prostitute in Chicago. Luna and the friend later formed a band they called "The Eagles," and the friend claims Luna used to write lyrics about beating and killing people, prosecutors claim.

Whether the other killing and stabbing that Degorski, 30, and Luna, 29, allegedly bragged about ever actually happened is unclear. But prosecutors plan to use the boasts - as well as each man's criminal history - against them to help get death sentences should the two be convicted of the Palatine slayings.

Prosecutors refused to elaborate on the court filings or say if the murder and stabbing allegations were being investigated. Palatine police also declined to comment.

Luna and Degorski have pleaded not guilty to the Brown's charges. One of their lawyers Thursday called prosecutors' claims in the court filing "baseless."

Clarence Burch, who represents Luna, said the new allegations are unfounded and that Luna has never been charged by police.

"Certainly Mr. Luna denies allegations made in so-called hearsay comments from third parties," Burch said. "Anybody can say anything they want to say, but it has to be proven in open court."

Degorski's attorney could not be reached for comment.

In their 20-page court filing, prosecutors also allege Degorski was a brutal and jealous boyfriend who terrorized and controlled girlfriends with violence and threats.

In one instance, Degorski is accused of dragging then-girlfriend Anne Lockett off the dance floor of her sister's 1994 wedding reception. It was Lockett who told police Degorski confessed to her that he and Luna killed the seven Brown's employees after closing time Jan. 8, 1993. Lockett was maid of honor at the wedding and Degorski was angry "because he felt Anne was talking to the groom too much," prosecutors alleged.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Darker Portrait of Brown's Suspects Prosecutors Say Men Bragged about Other Crimes and Killings


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?