Psychiatric Evaluation Pushes Back Murder Trial

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Byline: Robert McCoppin Daily Herald Legal Affairs Writer

A man accused of raping and strangling a woman in Naperville will undergo psychiatric examination to see if he was insane at the time of the attack.

The request by Richard G. Hess Jr. probably will cause a six-month delay in his trial for the murder of Nicole Kornely, DuPage County's top prosecutor said.

"It's unfair to the victim, it's unfair to the victim's family, to delay the case after two years, on the eve of trial," State's Attorney Joseph Birkett said.

Yet Birkett said the defendant's rights must be protected. Circuit Judge George Bakalis granted the request Monday after defense attorney Brian Telander said an insanity defense should be explored.

Police said Hess climbed onto Kornely's balcony in December 1995 from his apartment above hers, at 1517 W. Jefferson Ave., and got in through her unlocked sliding door.

On videotape, Hess said he entered Kornely's apartment, forced her to have sex, bit her and then strangled her with a piece of clothing.

His trial had been scheduled for Sept. 15.

Hess previously had rejected prosecutors' offers of prison time in exchange for a guilty plea, saying he wanted to die if convicted.

In June, prosecutors announced they would seek the death penalty.

But facing the confession and DNA testing that makes him a match for the rapist, Hess since has decided to go along with an effort to avoid the death penalty. …