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Trial set for August in latest Brown's Chicken case
By Barbara Vitello | Daily Herald Staff

James Degorski

 

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Published: 5/5/2009 12:14 AM

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James Degorski has a new date with destiny.

The April 30 start date of his trial for the 1993 slayings of two owners and five employees of a Palatine Brown's Chicken & Pasta came and went. Procedural issues, including a dispute over the admissibility of a videotaped confession, had delayed the proceedings.

Now the court has set Aug. 6 as the start of jury selection with opening statements to begin Aug. 31, said a spokeswoman for the Cook County state's attorney's office.

Degorski and co-defendant Juan Luna were charged with first-degree murder in the Jan. 8, 1993 deaths of Michael Castro, Lynn and Richard Ehlenfeldt, Guadalupe Maldonado, Thomas Mennes, Marcus Nellsen and Rico Solis. Luna was convicted of the murders in 2007 and sentenced to life in prison for his part in what remains one of the suburbs' most notorious crimes.

A task force established in the wake of the murders initially numbered 100 investigators. The number of officers involved declined over the years, but the investigation remained even though the leads had grown cold.

In 2002, Degorski's former girlfriend Anne Lockett came forward to inform police that shortly after the murders, Degorski called her and told her to watch the TV news, saying he had done something big. Later, he told her what happened at the restaurant, Lockett said.

Attorneys, witnesses and all other participants remain under Judge Vincent Gaughan's gag order and are unable to comment.