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Testimony ends in Brown's case
By Kimberly Pohl | Daily Herald Staff

James Degorski


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Published: 9/24/2009 3:55 PM

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The fourth week of James Degorski's capital murder trial concluded with Circuit Court Judge Vincent Gaughan telling jurors to expect to hear closing arguments Tuesday.

Degorski, 37, could face the death penalty if convicted of killing seven workers at the Palatine Brown's Chicken and Pasta in 1993. Co-defendant Juan Luna was convicted in 2007 and sentenced to life in prison.

The only witness called to the stand Thursday was hydrologist Nani Bhowmik. He testified earlier in the trial that water alone couldn't move a gun thrown into the Fox River near the Carpentersville Dam, the spot where prosecutors say Degorski and Luna abandoned the .38-caliber revolver used in the slayings.

Based on high temperatures in January 1993, Bhowmik said he didn't believe the river would have been frozen. He also said it's possible someone walking on the river bottom might not feel a gun if it was covered in sand and silt.

He was recalled in response to the testimony by a Kane County Forest Preserve District police sergeant who said he's seen large objects go over the dam and that the area is a popular swimming and fishing hole during the summer.

Assistant Public Defender Mark Levitt also presented testimony from a retired Palatine Police Department lieutenant that 14 divers put in 312 man hours more than five days searching the river for the gun, which was never found.

Bhowmik's testimony came during a phase of the trial in which attorneys for Degorski get to respond to the prosecution's rebuttal of the defense's case. Defense attorneys left open the possibility they'd call another witness on Tuesday before closing arguments begin.