O’Laughlin trial: More witnesses place John Wilson near O’Laughlin home

John L. Wilson
John L. Wilson
Kimberly Fornek
kfornek@pioneerlocal.com
Sept. 4 2:10 p.m.

More witnesses testified Thursday that they saw John Wilson Jr. near the home of 14-year-old Kelli O’Laughlin the day she was found stabbed to death.

Conrad Wilp, 13, whose mother testified Wednesday she saw Wilson near Sacajawea Park between about 2:45 p.m. and 3:15 p.m. Oct. 27, 2011, said he, too, saw the defendant while bicycling home from school.

The O’Laughlins’ house is next to the park on Keokuk Road.

Conrad, who was 11 at the time, said when he left Highlands Elementary School at 3:10 p.m. he bicycled west on Plainfield Road toward his home. He detoured toward the park, which is on Frontage Road, east of Interstate 294, when he saw his mother there talking to a neighbor who had stopped in his car.

His bicycle picked up his speed as he went down the slope of Frontage Road. Conrad said he saw Wilson walking in the middle of the road toward Keokuk. Conrad testified Wilson said, “something like I was going fast down the hill.”

Conrad said Wilson was wearing dark clothes, dark shoes with white on the soles and carrying a backpack by one strap over his left shoulder.

On Nov. 3, 2011, Conrad, like his mother, went to the La Grange Police Department for a lineup and identified Wilson as the man he saw on Frontage Road.

A Western Springs woman said she noticed Wilson when she was driving east on Plainfield Road the afternoon of Oct. 27.

Shelagh Juracic said Wilson stood out because he was climbing over the guardrail, east of Interstate 294.

“It was very strange,” Juracic said. “There was a sidewalk right in front of him.”

But instead he was climbing up an embankment that was overgrown with brush to reach Plainfield Road.

When Juracic heard later what happened at the O’Laughlins’ house, she contacted the police to report the suspicious man she had seen.

Juracic said she had a very emotional reaction when she viewed the police lineup on Nov. 3.

When she saw Wilson in the lineup, Juracic said she recognized him.

“I started crying,” Juracic said, “because I saw the person who had killed Kelli that afternoon.”

Defense attorney John Paul Carroll tried to raise doubts about Jurassic’s identification.

“Isn’t is true that because he was a black man, he stood out in that neighborhood?” Carroll asked.

“Absolutely not,” she replied.

Carroll also showed a page of mug shots Juracic had seen prior to the in-person lineup. She had circled one of the men’s pictures, initialed it and dated it. The picture was not of Wilson.

In his opening statement, Carroll had said Juracic had identified someone else prior to choosing Wilson in the lineup.

Juracic denied that Thursday.

“I did not recognize any of these individuals,” Juracic said, about the sheet of mug shots. “But I circled the one I thought look most like the man “seen climbing over the guardrail on Oct. 27.”

Carroll also questioned Juracic’s recollection of when she saw the man. In court Thursday, she said she passed him about 4:15 p.m.

But Carroll said when Juracic reported what she saw to a detective, she said she saw the man sometime between 3:45 p.m. and 4:15 p.m.

The timing will be important, as the probable time Kelli was stabbed is narrowed down.

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