CHICAGO (CBS) — The family of a woman serving a life sentence for the 2007 murder of a pregnant Deerfield woman are speaking out and insisting there is evidence to show she’s innocent.
“I mean it’s there. It’s bang, bang, bang, bang, bang,” Marni Yang’s father, Larry Yang, said about evidence proving his daughter isn’t Rhoni Reuter’s killer.
“We brought all these people together and they made a determination that scientifically … it was absolutely impossible for Marni to have committed that crime,” Larry Yang said.
That team, headed by attorney Jed Stone, filed a post-conviction petition earlier this month, claiming Yang is innocent and asking for a new trial. It alleges Lake County investigators hid and falsified evidence, as well as coerced Yang’s children into making false statements.
“It didn’t start there, it started with them raiding our home early in the morning, literally ripping us out of our bed,” Yang’s daughter, Emily, said.
“I was 11 years old at the time,” said Yang’s son Brandon.
The petition claims investigators used Yang’s other son, then 16-year-old Andrew, as bait, threatening to arrest him for Reuter’s murder to get Yang to confess.
“She’s not gonna let that happen. She’s gonna do what she needs to do to protect me. And that’s what she did,” Andrew said. “I know it was a false confession, because they wanted me to confess to something.”
Yang’s father said she decided to go “make up a story” that she committed the murder in order to get the investigators to leave Andrew alone.
Reuter was shot dead inside her Deerfield home. She was seven months pregnant with former Chicago Bears player Shaun Gayle’s child. Prosecutors painted Yang, who also had a relationship with Gayle, as a spurned girlfriend who wanted her rival dead.
Her son Andrew said he didn’t think Marni knew who Reuter even was.
“They made her seem like this jealous, violent woman, and she was the exact opposite,” Emily said. “She was a loving mother, a single mother, of us three.”
Emily and Andrew say they remember Gayle.
“We’d seen him just a few times,” Emily said. “We didn’t really know him … he’d give us some tickets to some football games”
They never saw Gayle after Reuter’s murder. They’ve now written a book about their ordeal to help pay legal fees.
Larry Yang says he’s spent his life savings trying to clear his daughter’s name. Now, he wants to shine a light on Lake County investigators and prosecutors, who he believes fabricated the entire case.
“When you don’t have absolute proof you have to … spread poison,” Larry Yang said. “And that’s what they did.”
CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov spoke to Reuter’s brother this month and he firmly believes Yang is guilty — calling her a “sociopath.”
CBS 2 could not reach Shaun Gayle for this story.
The petition goes before a judge Nov. 19, who will decide if the request for a new trial moves forward.
Yang’s children will be signing copies of their book, “My Mom Marni,” at Barnes and Noble (728 N. Waukegan Road) in Deerfield Saturday at noon.