CHICAGO (CBS) — Attorneys for disgraced former Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke have filed motions to throw out his conviction, and seeking a new trial in the shooting death of Laquan McDonald.
In Van Dyke’s first court appearance since a jury convicted him of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery, his defense team began the formal process of trying to clear his name, filing motions asking Judge Vincent Gaughan to either acquit him, or grant him a new trial.
The defense’s motions claimed Gaughan made several mistakes that prevented Van Dyke from getting a fair trial, including refusing to move the case out of Cook County, and rejecting several jury instructions proposed by the defense.
Van Dyke was dressed in a yellow jail jumpsuit for Wednesday’s hearing, but was not in handcuffs or shackles while in the courtroom. He is being held at the Rock Island County Jail for safety reasons, due to the high profile nature of his case.
“I met with Jason today, obviously, and he had a brief moment to meet with his family, and he is doing okay, but he is sad, he is scared, and he is lonely,” defense attorney Dan Herbert said after the hearing.
Special prosecutors asked Gaughan to give them five weeks to respond to the defense’s motions. The judge scheduled a Dec. 14 hearing on the defense motions.
Meantime, a sentencing date for Van Dyke has not yet been set. Van Dyke faces up to 20 years in prison for his conviction for second-degree murder, and 6 to 30 years in prison for each count of aggravated battery.
Even if given the minimum for each of those counts, if he had to serve consecutive terms, that would add up to at least 96 years for the aggravated battery charges alone.
However, some experts have said it’s unlikely Van Dyke will face such a severe sentence.
McDonald’s great uncle, Rev. Martin Hunter, was in court for Wednesday’s hearing, and said he’s looking forward to the end of the case.
“There’s another court date, which sends a signal to us that the judge and the prosecutors are aggressively trying to get to the end of this trial, and we’re thankful for that,” he said.
Van Dyke still faces a potential contempt of court charge, after Gaughan ruled he’d violated a court order not to discuss his case, when he granted interviews to the Chicago Tribune and WFLD-TV after jury selection had begun. Special prosecutors asked Gaughan to rule Van Dyke in contempt of court over the interviews, but the judge held off on ruling until after the trial.
Meantime, three other officers who were at the scene when Van Dyke shot McDonald – including his partner that night – are scheduled to go on trial next month, for allegedly trying to cover up what really happened.
According to the Chicago Police Department, Van Dyke is no longer an officer. State officials revoked his certification after he was convicted of a felony. However, he is still an unpaid city employee until the Chicago Police Board formally fires him.