Richter Conviction Affirmed-1st Illinois Case to Use Hearsay Statements of Murder Victim

 

The Fourth District Appellate Court unanimously affirmed the murder conviction of William Richter in a fifty-seven page written opinion recently released.  Richter was convicted by a jury in October of 2010 of the premeditated murder of his paramour, Dawn Marquis, and was sentenced to 75 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections.  He must serve 100% of his sentence, receiving no day for day credit.  Dawn Marquis was shot in the head in Richter’s driveway on Sunday, August 24, 2008 while she waited in her car to drive her daughter to a softball game.  Richter was charged with and convicted of soliciting Joe Hoffman, a family friend, to commit the murder.

 

The basis for Richter’s appeal was the admission of numerous hearsay statements made by Dawn Marquis in the days and weeks leading up to her death.  Marquis fearfully confided in numerous family members, friends, and co-workers that she believed Richter was planning to murder her.  Several of Marquis’ statements were recorded and played for the jury.  Richter contended that the admission of the statements was error because the statements were unreliable and violated his Sixth Amendment right to confront a witness.     

 

The Macon County State’s Attorney’s office, in a pre-trial hearing, successfully petitioned the trial court to admit the statements pursuant to an Illinois statute which allows for the admission of hearsay statements made by a domestic violence victim when the victim is unavailable for testimony.  Because Dawn Marquis was a paramour to Richter at the time of her death, her murder was considered to be a domestic violence offense under the statute.  Macon County is the first to successfully admit such statements in a domestic violence case.  The Appellate Court’s decision will now exist as precedent for other State’s Attorney’s Offices, statewide, to rely upon.  In releasing its decision, the Appellate Court commended the State for the “detailed manner in which it presented the specific statements it sought to introduce at trial.”  The case was prosecuted by First Assistant State’s Attorney Jay Scott and Assistant State’s Attorney Nichole Kroncke.