By Howard Packowitz and Neil Doyle
BLOOMINGTON – McLean County’s chief prosecutor said his office will review Judge Scott Drazewski’s ruling ordering a new trial for Donald Whalen before deciding what to do next in the 28 year old murder case.
Among the options for State’s Attorney Don Knapp are to appeal the ruling to the Fourth District Appellate Court, go ahead with the new trial, or allow Whalen to go free.
“Once my team and I have had an opportunity to review the court’s ruling in detail and compare it to the evidence introduced at trial as well as the post-conviction hearings, we will determine an appropriate path forward,” said Knapp in a prepared statement.
Donald Whalen was convicted of stabbing and beating his father William Whalen with knives and a pool cue at the Twenty Grand Tap in 1991.
Wednesday morning Drazewski handed down his ruling that Whalen will get a new trial.
Whalen’s defense team, the University of Chicago’s Exoneration Project, argued crime scene technicians failed to perform proper scientific testing of a partial palm print on a supposedly bloody pool cue, which was a key piece of evidence at trial.
Also, Donald Whalen’s DNA was not at the crime scene, but Assistant State’s Attorney David Rossi said Whalen’s lawyers glossed over other evidence from the trial. According to Rossi, Whalen benefited financially from his father’s murder to support his drug habit.
The evidence, said Rossi, was more than adequate to convict Whalen.
Whalen’s bond is set at $2 million, meaning he will have to post $200,000 to be released before the new trial.
Whalen, 52, has served almost half of his 60 year prison sentence.
The Illinois Department of Corrections website indicates Whalen is eligible to be released on parole in two years.
Howard Packowitz can be reached at email@example.com and Neil Doyle at firstname.lastname@example.org