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Accused O’Laughlin Killer Will Represent Self in Court

John L. Wilson, who is charged with the 2011 child murder in Indian Head Park, has been granted a motion of pro se with only stand-by counsel.

The man accused in the October 2011 murder of 14-year-old Kelli O’Laughlin in her Indian Head Park home has been granted the right to serve as his own lawyer as the case proceeds toward a likely trial.

John L. Wilson was granted a pro se motion on Dec. 19 by presiding judge John Hynes. A public defender has been appointed as stand-by counsel.

Defendants have the right to represent themselves even against their own self-interest, said Pat Reardon, first assistant public defender for Cook County, and no one can stop them from exercising that right. But lawyers tend to think it’s a bad call.

“Frankly, from the view of the public defender, it’s a nightmare,” Reardon said. “There’s an old saying that a person who has himself for a lawyer has a fool for a client. … [Stand-by counsel] is a very difficult role, and one that our lawyers don’t usually like to assume.”

Stand-by attorneys may only advise their clients on procedural matters—when to stand, sit, speak, etc.—and may not give advice, or draft or file motions, explained Reardon. “We’re supposed to sit there quietly. … It’s an awkward position for a lawyer.”

Judge Hynes had previously told Wilson that, “I strongly urge you to accept the appointment of a public defender.” 

The case is still in the pre-trial phase; the next hearing is on Feb. 6. The Public Defender’s Office said that several motions Wilson filed will be discussed, including one asking the state to release to him discovery typically disclosed only to an attorney, and another to remove the manacles from his wrists in the courtroom.

Wilson fired pro bono attorneys John P. Carroll and Michelle Gonzalez in May and filed his pro se motion. He later accepted the services of Cook County Public Defender David McMahon, who can no longer advise him due to the motion being granted.

"It's insane for a person not to have an attorney," Carroll told Patch in May. "That's like asking me to rebuild my own car engine."

According to Cook mental-health evaluator Dr. Peter Lourgos, Wilson’s erratic behavior—including answering “no” to nearly all questions in court, refusing exams and at one point shoving feces under a door—constitutes “a blatant attempt to provide inaccurate information and are clearly manipulative.”

"Mr. Wilson currently is not suffering from mental illness that would compromise his understanding of court procedure or his assistance in his own defense,” added fellow evaluator Dr. Susan Messina.

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Garry Watkins January 30, 2013 at 03:06 AM
Enough with the theatrics - get this over and put this animal away forever.
Erik Bloecks January 30, 2013 at 03:04 PM
I wonder how quickly the Judge will find him in contempt? This will only drag out the proceedings, delay inevitable and waste tax payers money.
Mouse January 30, 2013 at 03:31 PM
Yeah, let's just shred the Bill of Rights and execute him on the courthouse steps. Who needs a trial and all that goes with it. No need for proof or any legal process since Patch commenters have already convicted him. Dude may be guilty but he has a right to a trial. Too bad you don't understand that.
Erik Bloecks January 30, 2013 at 04:07 PM
How can he get a fair trial when he is not qualified to properly defend himself.
Darren McRoy January 30, 2013 at 04:26 PM
Having been found mentally fit to stand trial, he was offered a public defender and turned it down. Under the letter of the law, that's fair.
Joseph R. Martan January 30, 2013 at 06:44 PM
If this defendant is crazy it is the craziness of a fox. He is manipulating the system - and is already looking ahead to the appellate process where he will argue he wasn't given a fair trial. A court has to bend over backwards with a pro se defendant. This will be a long trial - and the appeals this individual will file will go on for years, probably even a decade or two.
Redmond OnArcher January 30, 2013 at 07:49 PM
What's wrong with our lawmakers? Wait a minute...in a criminal case when you butcher a 14 year old girl, you can defend yourself. Allowing this evil excuse of a human being to actually pose questions to those on the witness stand (family included) just adds salt to the wounds of those suffering her loss. The fact that the average "joe" who is forced to hire an attorney to represent himself in a CIVIL case is just twisted.
Redmond OnArcher January 30, 2013 at 07:53 PM
in response to Darren McRoy....How dare you to regard any of this as"fair." It may be deemed as allowed under our existing laws, however there is nothing FAIR about it! Ask yourself, if that we're my daughter would I want her killer questioning ME?
Billy Gallagher January 30, 2013 at 07:56 PM
I wish Dexter could meet him soon.
Redmond OnArcher January 30, 2013 at 08:06 PM
Actually, I never suggested that he didn't have a right to a trial. Merely questioning a system that would allow him (or any other criminal) to serve as his legal representation. But, now that you mention it, it would save the taxpayers a heap of money. No defendant could have much more evidence against him. More than one witness eyeballed him at the scene, he had Kelli's phone. (You know, the one he used to call Mrs O'Lauglin to provide her with the details of what he had done to her daughter.). His knit cap with his DNA in it in her hose etc. Do you really think he should be presumed INNOCENT until proven guilty?? If so, I'm hoping you will not be called for jury duty. As they say "Common sense is not so common."
Darren McRoy January 30, 2013 at 09:33 PM
My response was to Mr. Bloecks's question about his qualifications to defend himself, not the emotional toll to anyone of his doing so, and, as stated therein, was based entirely on the right to a "fair trial" as defined by law.
Garry Watkins January 31, 2013 at 12:00 AM
He'll get a fair trial, like every other American citizen. Then, he will get a life sentence like every other piece of crap murderer. No shredding of even a single document..
Darren McRoy January 31, 2013 at 08:43 AM
A comment was removed because it violated Patch's terms of use.
JAY JAY January 31, 2013 at 02:43 PM
GARRY No don't put him away forever at the tax payers expense Put him to death, the sooner the better. We the tax payers are feeding and clothing hundreds of thousands of the law breaking scum now ..nation wide !!!!
Deb January 31, 2013 at 04:43 PM
My heart goes out to the O'Laughlin family. Yet another obstacle they must endure. John L. Wilson will get a fair trial. Unfortunately, Kelli's poor parents will be subjected to a lengthy trial with the possibilty of having to be questioned by this cruel man who murdered their precious daughter. The O'Laughlin's will definitely see justice served. Hoping that their strength and fortitude continues to be the driving force to keep this career criminal behind bars for the rest of his unhappy life.
Redmond OnArcher January 31, 2013 at 09:31 PM
I'm not exactly sure true justice could ever be "served". True justice for all would be the death penalty so that this scum does not have to be cared for via taxpayers expense. You willingly take a life....you should be willing to face the consequences.
Redmond OnArcher January 31, 2013 at 09:34 PM
The killer should be put to death the same way he "executed" his victim. Why is it that society is so driven to have mercy on the merciless?
Redmond OnArcher January 31, 2013 at 09:49 PM
Mr. McRoy...my point is that that no perp in a criminal trial ie., rapist, pedophliac, murderer, home invader etc., should be ALLOWED to defend himself. This is not fair not only on the emotional level, it is not "fair" to taxpayers who will pay for the waisted hours of court time with him representing himself. You can be assured that this monster does not have the slightest clue as to criminal defense acumen and will only extend the length of time spent trying this case. Actually, I cannot believe that the criminal justice system would deem this acceptable. As I said before, the average person in a civil court proceeding is not allowed to defend himself and is FORCED, by law to hire an attorney. That's fair?
Darren McRoy February 01, 2013 at 08:33 PM
I'm afraid I don't know what you're talking about. People have the right to pro se representation at any level of a court proceeding. Here is some information about self-representation trends: http://www.ncsconline.org/wc/publications/memos/prosestatsmemo.htm#stateappellate . As you can see, they are quite high for civil cases. In New Hampshire, apparently, 85% of civil cases at one level were heard with at least one pro se party. Whether it's right or not is up to debate, but it is very much legal for any person to represent themselves pro se in any case.
Darren McRoy February 01, 2013 at 08:41 PM
The Judiciary Act of 1789, signed by President George Washington: "SEC. 35. And be it further enacted, That in ALL courts of the United States, the parties may plead and manage their own causes personally." http://www.constitution.org/uslaw/judiciary_1789.htm

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