Police probing the murder of ex-Bear Shaun Gayle’s pregnant girlfriend secretly tapped a suspect’s phone in 2009, but 10 days of eavesdropping yielded nothing that linked Chicago resident Marni Yang to the killing.
Investigators eager to solve the killing then went a step further, obtaining a judge’s permission to have Yang’s best friend secretly record conversations with her about the 2007 slaying of Rhoni Reuter, a police officer testified Thursday.
With Yang’s murder trial looming, her attorneys are asking a Lake County judge to toss out two recorded conversations in which Yang allegedly confided to friend Christi Paschen that she committed the killing.
During meetings at a suburban Denny’s Restaurant, Yang admitted to Paschen that she gunned down the 42-year-old Reuter in Reuter’s Deerfield home because she was jealous of Reuter’s relationship with Gayle, police and prosecutors have said.
That critical evidence is the heart of the case against the 43-year-old Yang, authorities acknowledge.
But her attorneys argued the information police used to obtain permission for the secret recordings came from interrogations of Yang that a judge already has barred as evidence.
Nor did investigators tell the judge who authorized the recordings between Yang and Paschen that police already were tapping her phones, Yang’s attorneys contend.
“Clearly that is something that should have been disclosed,” defense attorney William Hedrick said in asking that Yang’s purported statements be tossed out.
Officer Scott Frost testified that he told Lake County Judge Daniel Shanes during a hurried, Feb. 28, 2009 meeting in a Libertyville parking lot that investigators had wiretapped Yang’s phones. Shanes then signed off on Paschen wearing a body wire to record her conversations with Yang, Frost said.
“I did tell Judge Shanes we had an active wiretap and hadn’t developed any information,” Frost testified.
But Frost, a Lake Zurich detective then working with the Lake County Major Crimes Task Force, acknowledged there was no written report confirming his recollection of the meeting.
Judge Christopher Stride deferred until next month a ruling on whether Yang’s alleged statements can be used at her trial, which begins Feb. 28.
Yang faces first-degree murder charges for allegedly shooting Reuter, who was seven months pregnant when she was slain on Oct. 4, 2007. Yang also has been charged with the intentional homicide of an unborn child in the death of the daughter Reuter and Gayle already had named Skylar Reyne.