New Law Proposal Spawned from Case
Gutowski, Christy, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Byline: Christy Gutowski Daily Herald Legal Affairs Writer
Weeks before her violent death, Erin Justice told Naperville police in an interview and a written statement that her stepfather molested her.
Authorities allege the man, Laurence E. Lovejoy, killed Erin on March 27, 2004, to forever silence her about the rape.
A judge's recent ruling limiting inclusion of the teen's words in the murder trial may make it harder for prosecutors to prove a motive for the killing.
At issue is Lovejoy's constitutionally protected right to confront his accuser in court.
Prosecutors argue he forfeited that right when he killed the 16- year-old girl, but the defense counters he has not been convicted, and letting a jury hear such "hearsay" evidence is too prejudicial.
A U.S. Supreme Court ruling that came down days before Erin's murder further limited the prosecution's use at trial of prior statements of unavailable witnesses such as Erin - no matter how reliable a judge finds them to be.
Noting the ruling, DuPage Circuit Judge Kathryn Creswell found Lovejoy forfeited his right to confront his accuser in the rape case, but that the legal concept did not apply to the murder trial. That means the jury will not be allowed to read Erin's four-page statement or hear testimony from the Naperville police detectives with whom the teen spoke. …