Prosecution Rests in Former St. Peters Resident's Murder Case
The ball's now in the court of alleged quadruple-killer Christopher Vaughn and his team of defense lawyers.
JOLIET, IL—Prosecutors piled up 88 witnesses in 17 days to make their case against alleged quadruple-killer Christopher Vaughn, a former St. Peters resident who graduated from Francis Howell High School, finishing things off Wednesday with the words of a detective.
Illinois State Police Investigator Chris Linares read credit card receipts from Vaughn's trips to a Stone Park strip club and a Plainfield, IL, shooting range in the days before his wife and three children were shot to death in June 2004.
Linares also read from email messages between Vaughn and his slain wife, Kimberly Vaughn, 34, a 1991 graduate from St. Charles West High School who resided, with her husband in St. Peters for several years before moving to Washington.
In the messages, Kimberly Vaughn repeatedly told her husband she loves him. His responses seemed less affectionate.
After the prosecution rested, lead defense attorney George Lenard went through the formality of asking Judge Daniel Rozak to find Christopher Vaughn innocent without troubling the jury with deliberations. Judge Rozak denied the motion for a directed verdict.
Lenard then launched the defense case by calling criminologist Lucien Haag to testify.
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The Arizona crime expert told how he made $350 an hour for his work on the Vaughn case, and that "there's been a lot of hours" of work to bill.
But all those hours resulted in Haag doing little to refute the prosecution's theory that Christopher Vaughn stuck a pistol under his wife's chin and put a bullet in her brain before turning the gun on his three children—Blake, 8, Cassandra, 11, and Abigayle, 12—and shooting each one once in the body and once in the head.
While Vaughn faces charges he murdered his entire family, he claimed to the police that it was actually his wife who killed the children and then shot herself in the head while they were sitting in the family's Ford Expedition. She also got him once in the thigh and once in the wrist, Vaughn told the police, but he managed to escape from the SUV with his life.
Kimberly Vaughn's murderous rampage was fueled by the antidepressants and migraine headache medication she had been taking, Christopher Vaughn told the police. He also told investigators that he had recently confessed to his wife about a sexual affair he carried on during a trip to Mexico, and that this upset her.
After Haag, defense attorney Jaya Varghese called Michelle Palaro, an investigator with the Will County Public Defender's Office, to testify.
Palaro read even more email exchanges between Kimberly and Christopher Vaughn, some messages to and from Kimberly Vaughn and her classmates from the online University of Phoenix, and one email conversation with a faculty member from the University of Phoenix.
In the email messages read by Palaro, Kimberly Vaughn often complained of migraine headaches. She also vented her frustration with school officials over her daughter beng targeted by bullies even after suffering a broken arm at the hands of an abusive classmate.
In one message from Kimberly Vaughn to her husband, she mentions discussing medication options with her doctor after suffering "personality changes" and feelings of anxiety.
"I told him you had noticed and I had noticed a personality change," Kimberly Vaughn's email said.
A change in medication, she hoped, would decrease her feelings of "anxiety" and make her less "lethargic."
Vaughn's email exchanges with classmates included discussions about a 5-year-old student in Florida handcuffed by a teacher and firearm safety.
Assistant State's Attorney Deborah Mills pointed out that Kimberly Vaughn received points in her courses at the University of Phoenix for participating in such online conversations.
Vaughn's lawyers are expected to call about 20 more witnesses before resting their case as early as Tuesday.