'It was a tragedy': Top prosecutor made his presence felt during Brown's Chicken murder trial
Former Cook County State's Attorney Dick Devine didn't often make personal appearances in the courtroom. But the chief prosecutor made an exception in April 2006 when Juan Luna, the first of two defendants to stand trial in the Brown's Chicken massacre, appeared before a judge.
Devine said his appearance was meant to symbolize the office's commitment to move an important case forward as quickly as possible. By then, it had been nearly four years since Luna and co-defendant James Degorski had been arrested for the Palatine killings.
"I think how senseless it was, the loss of all those lives," Devine said recently. "For what? A few dollars. It made no sense. It was a tragedy in a number of ways."
Devine said he checked with the prosecution team before he made his court appearance.
"You don't want to step on anybody's toes. They were OK with it," he said.
Jury selection in Luna's case began in March 2007. After 14 days of testimony and 11 hours of deliberations, jurors found him guilty of the murders.
Devine's office sought the death penalty, but a lone vote on the jury spared Luna and he was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Although it was abolished in Illinois four years later, and death row eventually cleared, Devine says he didn't have a problem with the death penalty in appropriate cases.
"My view had always been ... we're here to enforce the law," Devine said. "The prosecutors don't legislate."