UPDATED 08/24/11 11:01 a.m.
WHEATON, Ill. (CBS) — DuPage County prosecutors dropped two cases Wednesday against convicted serial killer Paul Runge, because he cannot be sentenced to any greater penalty.
As WBBM Newsradio’s Nancy Harty reports, Runge, 41, once of Carol Stream, had been awaiting trial in the murder of two sisters from Hanover Park in July 1995.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Nancy Harty reports
Runge is accused in the murder of Bosnian refugees Dzeneta Pasanbegovic, 22, and Amela Pasanbegovic, 20, in Hanover Park. He confessed to handcuffing, bludgeoning, raping, torturing and strangling the women, the Daily Herald reported.
But DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin decided to dismiss the charges.
In a statement Wednesday, Berlin said he “reluctantly” agreed to drop the charges against Runge in the Pasanbegovic cases simply because there is no greater penalty to which Runge can now be sentenced.
Berlin said he realizes his decision may make it appear that Runge is getting away with the crimes, but he reiterated, “since the death penalty is no longer an option in Illinois, he would not receive any additional punishment.”
For that reason, it would be a poor use of prosecutors’ resources to pursue a case that would carry no real consequences for Runge, Berlin said in the statement.
Runge was convicted in February 2006 of slashing the throats of Yolanda Gutierrez, 35, and her 10-year-old daughter, Jessica Muniz, and then recommended a death sentence.
The two bodies were found in February 1997, badly burned and showing signs of sexual assault; DNA taken from Jessica’s throat linked back to Runge, who confessed to the crimes — and allegedly to the murders of five other women — on videotape.
Runge was sentenced to death, but his sentence was commuted, along with all the state’s remaining death row inmates, when Gov. Pat Quinn signed the bill abolishing the death penalty in Illinois earlier this year.
But charges that Runge killed several other women have been dismissed. In March, charges were dismissed against Runge in the 1995 slaying of Stacy Frobel, 24, of Carol Stream, and the 1997 murders of Dorota Dziubak, 30, and Kazimiera Paruch, 43, of Chicago, given that prosecutors could no longer win a sentence harsher than life, the Daily Herald reported.
Prosecutors said Runge began his killing spree in January 1995, after being paroled from a 14-year prison sentence for the 1987 sexual assault and beating of a 14-year-old girl, the Daily Herald reported.
After the murders, Runge was arrested on a parole violation in 1997. He was also convicted of trying to escape from custody as he headed to a court appearance in 2000.
The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.