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Judge Denies Makeover Request Before Murder Trial

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Marni Yang, Rhoni Reuter

Marni Yang (left) was convicted of killing Rhoni Reuter (right) and her unborn child in 2007. Prosecutors said Yang killed Reuter, the girlfriend of former Chicago Bear Shaun Gayle, to eliminate her as a romantic rival. (Credit: Deerfield Police Department/CBS)

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UDPATED: 3/01/2011 3:31 p.m.

WAUKEGAN, Ill. (CBS) – Jury selection is under way in the trial of the woman accused of killing the pregnant girlfriend of former Chicago Bears player Shaun Gayle.

Prosecutors allege that Marni Yang shot Rhoni Reuter–and fired twice into her abdomen, killing the unborn child–in a jealous rage against back in 2007.

Jury selection began after Judge Christopher Stride said for a third time that Yang could not have her hair cut and colored and can’t wear makeup.

As CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole reports, there’s a lot to make this trial sensational. Yang has claimed she had a sexual relationship with ex-Chicago Bear Shuan Gayle.

She’s charged with killing his pregnant girlfriend, Rhoni Reuter, shooting her twice in the stomach to kill their unborn child.

Yang’s attorneys claimed that, for the jury to believe Yang, she needed to look like a woman who would appeal to Gayle. They wanted to delay the start of the trial so she could get a pre-trial makeover to cut and dye her hair. Defense attorneys said it would be no different than male inmates being allowed to shave and cut their hair before trial.

But her request for a makeover session was promptly denied on Tuesday.

As Yang sat with little emotion, the judge said she was neither unkempt nor disheveled as her lawyers claimed, and could not be treated differently than other prisoners.

“Miss Yang has always appeared well groomed … has never looked unkempt,” the judge said, adding he was “… not going to order the jail to treat Miss Yang any different than anyone else.”

When Yang appeared in court Tuesday, her long hair – in several shades of brown and grey – was pulled neatly back and she wore a ruffed teal blouse.

Attorney William Hedrick argued that Yang will look like a “crazy woman” if she is not allowed to have her hair done before trial. He also asked that Yang be allowed to put on makeup before court appearances.

Lake County Assistant State’s Attorney Ari Fisz disagreed with Hedrick’s characterization of Yang’s looks, but said it would be better for the prosecution if Yang were allowed to improve her appearance.

Yang faces charges of first-degree murder and intentional homicide of an unborn child.

Reuter was shot to death in her Deerfield condo on Oct. 4, 2007. Yang has claimed she was home replacing the battery in her broken car at the time, but her teenage son told police he didn’t see her around at the time of the murder.

Authorities claim Yang jealously rivaled for Gayle’s affection and conspired to kill Reuter, who was pregnant with Gayle’s daughter. They say Yang allegedly used an elaborate scheme to cover her tracks, including wearing a disguise, building a home-made silencer and using a throw-away cell phone while planning and carrying out the crime.

Repeatedly on Tuesday, potential jurors were asked by the judge “can you listen to testimony about an unborn child and remain fair and impartial?”

Prosecutors plan to introduce into evidence graphic pictures of the murder scene and also disturbing x-rays of the murdered unborn baby.

In another blow for Yang, defense attorneys won’t be able to present evidence that Gayle pushed a pregnant Reuter just weeks before her murder and that he pressured her to abort two earlier pregnancies.

Gayle is expected to testify during the trial.

Yang has been in jail for almost two years.

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS Radio and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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