Chester Weger case: Judge may rule Oct. 26 whether evidence can be re-analyzed

Weger was present Friday in Ottawa court

A La Salle County judge may rule as soon as Tuesday, Oct. 26, whether evidence in the 1960 Starved Rock murder case gets a fresh trip to the crime lab.

Chester Weger, 81, is challenging his 1960 conviction for murdering Lillian Oetting at Starved Rock State Park. Weger also confessed at that time to killing Oetting’s two companions, but he has since recanted those statements.

Weger, who was granted parole in 2019, has asked Judge Michael C. Jansz to submit existing evidence to the lab, arguing advanced techniques are available to shed new light on the 60-year-old case. Weger was present in the Ottawa courtroom Friday.

Weger’s attorneys said Friday in court evidence is kept in acceptable manners to today’s standards that would make it subject to new forensic analysis.

Special prosecutors with the Will County State’s Attorney’s Office, representing La Salle County in the case, have argued there has not been a proper chain of custody, making them obsolete for re-analysis. “Chain of custody” refers to the order in which items of evidence have been handled during the investigation of a case.

Weger’s attorneys, however, have said there is just as much reason to believe these items have been kept without tampering as there is the possibility they have been, citing prosecutors have not provided evidence to show any tampering.

Jansz noted Friday the challenge in this case is the safeguards that exist today to keep evidence safe did not exist in 1960.

A hearing is set Oct. 26, where Jansz may rule on whether evidence can be re-analyzed.

Derek Barichello

Derek Barichello

Derek is a Streator High and University of Illinois graduate. He worked at the Albany-Herald in Albany, Ga., and for Sauk Valley Media in Sterling, before returning to his hometown paper. He's now news editor for both the NewsTribune and The Times.