It was seven years ago that June Conrad's son gave her a good-bye kiss, then turned to walk out the door.
She never saw him again.
"He was very upset. He said, 'Mom, I have to go,'" she recalled. "We begged him to stay. I watched him walk across the court and down the street. That was the last that I ever saw him."
Her tearful testimony opened the long-awaited retrial Wednesday of a man accused of murdering John E. Conrad, 31, of Schaumburg in late October 2000.
Prosecutors allege Luigi P. Adamo killed Conrad with a tire iron in a northwest DuPage County forest preserve, robbed him of $8, and later bragged about the crime.
His first trial ended May 30 when DuPage Circuit Judge George Bakalis was forced to declare a hung jury after the foreman said further deliberations would be futile.
The panel deliberated 27 hours during three days. Adamo, 26, formerly of Wayne, did not testify. He maintains his innocence.
Prosecutor David Bayer told a new jury Tuesday that witnesses, physical evidence and the defendant's own statements prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
A couple walking through Pratt's Wayne Woods, off Munger Road, near Bartlett, discovered the brutalized remains Oct. 28, 2000.
"No one deserves to die the way John Conrad died," Bayer said during his opening statement. "He was lured into the woods, repeatedly struck over the head and about his face with a heavy metal tire iron until his life expired."
The murder remained unsolved for three years until a co-defendant's ex-girlfriend convinced him July 17, 2003, to go to police. Jason S. Reardon, 24, was charged with murder, too. But, in a plea deal, he is serving a 19-year prison term for a lesser charge of armed robbery.
Reardon secretly recorded phone calls with Adamo. Bayer said Adamo did not confess, but he made incriminating statements, such as when he said if police had evidence, they both would be arrested already.
Both Reardon and his ex-girlfriend, Sarah Haggard, will testify as early as today against Adamo, just as they did in the first trial last spring.
Prosecutors allege Conrad approached Adamo, Reardon and a third friend, Eric Ewing, in late October 2000 outside a Carol Stream restaurant and asked for a ride. Bayer said the trio dropped off Conrad, a longtime alcoholic, in Addison to buy drugs.
Prosecutors said both Reardon and Ewing will again testify that Adamo later lured Conrad back into the car to mess with him. Reardon told the first jury that he watched Adamo beat Conrad with the tire iron after Ewing dropped them at the forest preserve.
The defense team painted Haggard, Reardon and Ewing as liars and noted their inconsistencies. They criticized the police probe and questioned why all the evidence wasn't tested for forensics.
The defense points to another man as the likely killer. He is a former friend of Conrad's who was convicted of using the slain man's Public Aid card to buy groceries at a store within one mile of where the body was found. The defense also argues Conrad was killed days earlier than the prosecution version.
"This case is replete with reasonable doubt," defense attorney Richard Beuke said in urging an acquittal.
Prosecutors lack a murder weapon or a concrete confession. Adamo's fingerprints, though, were found on the spare tire in Ewing's trunk, and the tire iron was missing.
The trial continues today. It is expected to last several weeks. Adamo is free on a $500,000 bond.