Kelli O’Laughlin murder trial underway

Kimberly Fornek
kfornek@pioneerlocal.com
Sept. 2 8 p.m.

Jury selection continued into the evening Tuesday for the murder trial of John Wilson, Jr.

Wilson is accused of fatally stabbing 14-year-old Kelli O’Laughlin in her Indian Head Park home on Oct. 27, 2011.

About 35 jurors were interviewed by Cook County Circuit Court Associate Judge John J. Hynes in the Bridgeview Courthouse.

Opening arguments are expected to start Tuesday morning. Hynes said the trial possibly could go until Sept. 16.

A few friends and relatives of O’Laughlin, including her older sister and sister-in-law, sat in the first row of spectators in the courtroom, although her parents were not present.

The judge and then the attorneys questioned potential jurors about their experience with the court system, asking whether they had been accused of crimes, victims of crimes, witnesses in court or served previously as jurors.

Wilson, dressed in a dark gray shirt, pants and tie, was present during the questioning.

People who said they had heard about O’Laughlin’s murder were questioned individually by the judge and attorneys in private.

Prosecutors claim Wilson murdered O’Laughlin when she came home during the afternoon and caught him burglarizing her family’s home.

The evidence to be introduced will be outlined during opening arguments, but based on pre-trial hearings it will include DNA evidence and cellphone records.

Prosecutors have indicated DNA samples taken from a winter hat found in the O’Laughlins’ house matches Wilson’s. Investigators said the hat was wrapped around a rock that was used to break a window at the rear of the house, where the intruder entered.

The defense had sought to hire a DNA expert to review the evidence themselves.

The possible witnesses include a social media expert from the Naperville Police Department, and experts in computer/cellular telephone forensic examination from the Tinley Park and Orland Park police departments and a regional forensic laboratory. They might be called to testify about messages on or from Wilson’s cellphone, the cellphone of Kelli’s mother, Brenda O’Laughlin, and others.

Prosecutors allege Wilson took Kelli’s cellphone with him when he fled and used it to send taunting messages to her mother.

The U.S. Secret Service allegedly used cellphone-tracking technology to determine that Kelli’s phone and Wilson’s phone were traveling together throughout Chicago.

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