Chester Weger’s lawyer says special prosecutor won’t vacate conviction in Starved Rock murders

Weger’s lawyer Andy Hale says they will seek to vacate conviction in court

Chester Weger and his attorney Andy Hale speak outside the La Salle County Government Complex on Monday, Aug. 1, 2022 in Ottawa.

An attorney representing Chester Weger announced Thursday on his podcast “The Starved Rock Murders with Andy Hale” that the Will County State’s Attorney’s Office has chosen not to vacate Weger’s conviction.

Because the Will County State’s Attorney’s Office was appointed special prosecutor, it had the ability to vacate Weger’s 1960 conviction of the murder of Lillian Oetting. Weger was paroled in 2019 after serving six decades in prison.

Hale, representing Weger, said he sent about 80 exhibits to the Will County State’s Attorney’s Office in the first week of October for review. Hale said the office told him in an email it was not enough to grant a vacation of the conviction.

Recently in La Salle County court, Weger, 83, sought to proceed with efforts to identify some DNA retrieved from crime-scene evidence. As previously reported, a hair found from the glove of victim Frances Murphy was found to have a man’s DNA, but it wasn’t Weger’s.

There is a process for getting evidence submitted into the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) for comparison but there still are a few hurdles left to cross. La Salle County Judge Michael C. Jansz set a new hearing for 1 p.m. Feb. 24.

As far as clearing Weger’s conviction, Hale said he will now seek to file a petition for post-conviction relief in La Salle County court. Through this process, Hale will present evidence to a judge and the special prosecutor from Will County will be able to argue the evidence. Hale said he expects to file this petition no later than the end of January.

With Weger set to turn 84 in March, Hale said time is of the essence in this case.

“It’s critical we get to the bottom of this as soon as we can,” Hale said in the podcast.

The Will County State’s Attorney’s Office issued a statement Friday in response.

“We are aware that Chester Weger’s attorney, Andy Hale, has produced a podcast in which he asserts that this office has refused to vacate Mr. Weger’s conviction,” said Carole Cheney, assistant state’s attorney and director of public affairs, community engagement and partnerships.

“As we have informed Mr. Hale, our office is currently reviewing the materials he has submitted. The proper procedure for Mr. Hale, however, would be to file a post-conviction petition and we have suggested to Mr. Hale that he consider doing so while we continue our review given his expressed concern that the matter is of a time-sensitive nature.”