CHICAGO (CBS) — Whose fingerprint was on murder victim Rhoni Reuter’s front door knob?
Those fighting to free Marni Yang, the woman convicted of killing Reuter, want to know. And they wonder why it has never been widely analyzed before.
As CBS 2 Political Investigator Dana Kozlov reported exclusively Monday night, Yang’s defense will be asking a judge for permission to test it this week.
This latest development comes a month after a Lake County judge ruled Yang’s petition for a new trial has merit.
Yang’s defense lawyers will ask the judge for permission to find out about the fingerprint in court on Wednesday, after they dug it out of the Lake County State’s Attorney’s evidence file.
“And we said, why was this print never run?” said Perry Myers’ lead investigator for Yang’s defense team. “Why was it never investigated? So if it was, it’s not in the record.”
Yang’s defense team is working to get her a new trial. She was found guilty for planning and then murdering Reuter, 42, in her Deerfield home in 2007 and was sentenced to life in prison without the eligibility of parole.
Reuter was seven months pregnant when she was shot six times – carrying ex-Chicago Bear’s Shaun Gayle’s child.
In court, Gayle admitted to having a sexual relationship with Yang.
“Guilty in all counts – that’s what we were looking for,” said Gayle on the day Yang was convicted in March 2011.
Yang’s defense claims Lake County prosecutors hid and failed to turn over evidence – including the fingerprint, which was found on Reuter’s door handle.
“The killer was right there, and if the killer touched that door and left a fingerprint, then that may well be the fingerprint of the killer,” Myers said.
Yang’s defense attorney, Jed Stone, said tests show the print isn’t Yang’s, Reuter’s, or that of anyone familiar with Reuter’s home. It’s part of a pile of evidence questions he has, which includes where a medical pregnancy bracelet allegedly worn by Reuter and stolen by Yang came from.
Also unanswered, Stone said, is why male DNA was found on unspent rounds at the murder scene, and Yang’s family’s insistence that she faked a confession because police threatened to frame her son, Andrew.
“I know it was a false confession, because they wanted me to confess to something,” Andrew said in October.
At the time, Lake County prosecutors called the case against Yang airtight. But Yang’s new defense doesn’t buy it.
Yang’s defense will also ask to see video from a barbershop on the day of Reuter’s murder to check out Gayle’s alibi.
Lake County is expected to file a motion to dismiss the case next month. If it isn’t granted, a judge could decide whether to grant a new trial this summer.