One Year Later: Case Against Accused O'Laughlin Murderer Progresses Slowly
John L. Wilson, Jr., is scheduled to appear in court again next month.
John L. Wilson, Jr., the man charged with the brutal murder of 14-year-old Lyons Township freshman Kelli O'Laughlin, is scheduled to appear in court next month for a status hearing. The case against the Chicago man, who had been out on parole at the time he burglarized the teen's Indian Head Park home, has progressed slowly.
Wilson was taken into custody on November 2, 2011, six days after prosecutors say he stabbed the teen to death. He was charged with first-degree murder.
READ: Suspect Charged With O'Laughlin Murder Has Long Criminal History
Wilson was presented with a 31-count felony indictment that included charges of first-degree murder, residential burglary, armed robbery, aggravated unlawful restraint and home invasion on December 1, 2011, according to areport by the Chicago Tribune.
At his initial arraignment on December 21, 2011, his attorney at the time, Naperville-based John P. Carroll, entered a plea of not guilty for his client. Carroll told the judge at Wilson's arraignment that his client's being held at the Pontiac Correctional Facility, about 100 miles south of Chicago on I-55, made it difficult for him to mount a defense. Carroll said communicating with Wilson was a challenge due to the distance and requested to have Wilson transferred to Cook County Jail. The judge denied the motion.
READ: Who is the Attorney Representing John L. Wilson?
On March 6, Wilson was ordered to undergo a mental health exam, after repeatedly answering “no” when asked if he understood various facts relating to his case. When the judge asked him what he did not understand, Wilson answered, "why I'm here," with a shrug. The only question Wilson answered "yes" to, was Judge John J. Hynes question about whether Wilson wished to retain Carroll as his attorney. At the time, Carroll was appealing a suspension from the Attorney Registration & Disciplinary Commission of the Supreme Court of Illinois, a status which did not prohibit him from representing Wilson.
The Chicago Tribune had reported in November of 2011 that Wilson had a self-contradictory mental health record and, while he has claimed to have received psychiatric help since childhood, he also has acknowledged “doing crazy stuff to get out of the cell.”
State prosecutors Andreano Turano and Guy Lisuzzo said there was little evidence Wilson is mentally ill, but agreed to the decision to remand Wilson to the Cook County Sheriff for an examination of his mental fitness to stand trial.
Two attempts by Cook County Forensic Clinical Services to examine Wilson for mental fitness made on April 17 and April 20 proved unsuccessful. Prosecutors told a judge at his April 23 appearance that Wilson refused to cooperate with the exams. Judge John J. Hynes remanded Wilson to the Cook County Department of Corrections for a third exam the week of April 23 and issued a warning that future lack of cooperation would automatically invalidate any type of insanity defense.
In May, Wilson fired his attorneys, John P. Carroll and Michelle Gonzalez and requested to defend himself. Both lawyers had been defending Wilson free of charge. The judge repeatedly asked Wilson at his May 14 appearance to consider his decision carefully. Wilson had been found mentally fit to stand trial. The judge reminded Wilson that for the first-degree murder charges alone, Wilson is facing a minimum of 20 years in the penitentiary with no possibility of parole and a maximum of life in prison. Hynes asked Wilson if he wanted more time to think the matter over, to which Wilson said "yes." Carroll told Patch after the hearing that he was surprised at Wilson's request to defend himself and thought that it was "insane for a person not to have an attorney."
On May 30, Wilson accepted the services of Cook County Public Defender David McMahon. McMahon is one of two public defenders at the Fifth Municipal District Courthouse in Bridgeview, who handle murder cases. He was assigned to defend Wilson and had yet to see any of the police reports related to the O'Laughlin murder at the time he was assigned the case. Patch asked McMahon, after the May 30 hearing, if the distance to the Pontiac Correctional Facility, where Wilson is currently being held, would pose any issues in defending him. Wilson's former attorney, Carroll, had said having his client so far away made it difficult for him to mount a defense.
"That's a problem," McMahon told Patch at the time. "Just one of them."
Wilson has since made several brief appearances in court for status hearings. His next scheduled appearance is November 7.