Geneva man convicted of killing his wife says judge got it all wrong. This could take awhile.

  • Shadwick King

    Shadwick King

  • Kathleen Zellner, the attorney for Shadwick King, has filed a 90-page motion asking a judge to set aside his conviction for the 2014 killing of his wife in Geneva.

      Kathleen Zellner, the attorney for Shadwick King, has filed a 90-page motion asking a judge to set aside his conviction for the 2014 killing of his wife in Geneva. Rick West | Staff Photographer, 2020

  • Mark A. Downs

    Mark A. Downs

  • Nico Contreras

    Nico Contreras

 
Posted9/16/2022 5:00 AM

Shadwick King is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 5 for the 2014 murder of his wife, Kathleen, in Geneva.

But before that can happen, Kane County Judge John Barsanti will have to decide a host of issues raised in a 90-page post-trial motion asking him to toss out King's conviction.

 

Such post-trial petitions are common, and oftentimes quickly denied. We're thinking this one may take some time.

The petition filed by King attorney Kathleen Zellner lays out dozens of reasons she thinks Barsanti was wrong to find the 55-year-old Geneva man guilty of killing his 32-year-old wife in July 2014.

Prosecutors say King killed his wife at the couple's home, then placed her body on the Union Pacific railroad tracks, where it was discovered by Metra train workers shortly after 6:30 a.m. on a Sunday. A medical examiner ruled Kathleen died of asphyxiation.

Zellner argues in her motion that Barsanti was wrong to say the scene had been staged because the prosecution didn't provide testimony or evidence that happened. She also argues that the judge improperly relied on transcripts from King's first trial, held in 2015, which led to a guilty verdict that was overturned on appeal.

And she alleges someone planted a piece of evidence -- a wood shard from the bathroom door of the Kings' home, presented as proof of a struggle between the Kings. The shard did not appear in a police photo taken on the day Kathleen King's body was discovered, but it was in another photo taken two days later.

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Zellner did not say who she believes planted the evidence.

She also wrote it was improbable that King could have killed his wife, dressed her, driven her body to a park, carried it from the park to the railroad tracks, positioned the body, put traces of rail rust and track bed rock on her shoes and then head home, all while not being seen by anybody, in the 79 minutes between Kathleen's sending a Facebook message to when her body was found.

"This court has made numerous legal and factual errors, ignored and overlooked material and substantive evidence, improperly relied upon the first trial transcripts and insufficient, prejudicial, and planted evidence, and demonstrated clear judicial bias by shifting the burden of proof to the defense," Zellner wrote.

Zellner argues that Kathleen died of sudden cardiac arrhythmia, brought on by exercise, dehydration and stress.

We reached out to the Kane County state's attorney's office and Geneva police for comment but didn't hear back.

King has been in custody since July 2014. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison after his first conviction.

Court rebuffs 6-year-old's killer

The sixth time wasn't the charm for a former suburban man serving a 70-year prison sentence for the killing of a 6-year-old boy who was shot to death as he slept in his grandmother's Aurora home.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

A state appeals court on Wednesday rejected the latest bid for a new trial from Mark A. Downs, who's behind bars for the murder of Nico Contreras more than 25 years ago. It's the sixth time the Second District Appellate Court has ruled on Downs' case.

Authorities say Downs, then living in Montgomery, thought he was taking aim at a rival gang member on Nov. 10, 1996, when he shot into the bedroom of the Aurora residence, striking the sleeping boy.

In his latest appeal, Downs argues that his lawyer, then-Kane County Public Defender David Kliment, put up an ineffective defense. Among his complaints: Kliment failed to fully cross-examine a key prosecution witness about his potential involvement in another slaying, failed to pursue an alibi defense, and didn't meet with him often to adequately prepare a defense.

The appellate court unanimously rejected the claims, ruling, in part, that Kliment's cross-examination provided jurors with "more than sufficient information" to fully assess the witness' credibility.

Downs is serving his sentence at the maximum-security Stateville Correctional Center near Crest Hill. He won't be eligible for parole until 2054.

Catch up on Safe-T Act

It would be hard not to notice the controversy swirling around the state's criminal justice system these days about a plan to eliminate cash bail as of Jan. 1.

Some suburban prosecutors, legislators and law enforcement leaders have spoken out against the key element of the 2021 Safe-T Act, arguing it will jeopardize public safety and put dangerous criminals out on the streets.

Want to learn more? The Illinois Supreme Court's Pretrial Implementation Task Force is hosting a pair of virtual town hall meetings over Zoom this month to discuss the planned changes.

The first, set for noon today, will discuss evidence-based pretrial assessments, which will be used to determine whether a defendant should be released or held in custody while awaiting trial.

The second meeting, set for noon Thursday, Sept, 29, will discuss the implementation of the new pretrial detention system.

These are the task force's third and fourth town halls, which are intended to update the public on the panel's work and answer questions about the upcoming changes. Future sessions are set for Oct. 27 and Nov. 17.

To find out more or attend one of the sessions, visit https://tinyurl.com/m7f8dwnk.

What's in your pockets?

It pays to check what's in your pockets before going through the security check at a courthouse.

Shamari B. Stewart of Willowbrook may not have done that Tuesday morning, when he showed up at the DuPage County courthouse in Wheaton for a court date. That's when authorities say security officers found a live 9-millimeter bullet on him.

As of Thursday, Stewart was in the county jail, held on $50,000 bail. He's charged with aggravated unlawful use or possession of a weapon or ammunitions by a felon.

• Have a question, comment or story idea? Email us at copsandcrime@dailyherald.com.

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