Local News

Illinois Supreme Court rules against Spring Valley murderer

Court: Taliani’s claims are ‘a new theory,’ not new evidence

A man serving 100 years for a 1994 murder and near-fatal shooting in Spring Valley struck out Thursday in his latest appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court.

Steven A. Taliani, 58, was convicted of the murder of girlfriend Francee Wolf and for shooting and wounding her mother, Tina Frasco. He has appealed multiple times yet was granted a hearing before the state’s top court, this time over whether his judgment at the time of the offense was impaired by two prescription medications.

Taliani argued while his defense counsel knew about the medications and their side effects, they didn’t know or failed to argue that combining the drugs could cause something called “serotonin syndrome.” That condition could have diminished Taliani’s faculties and knowing about it then would have let him argue for a lesser charge.

Taliani also argued this was new “evidence” unavailable at trial. He likened it to the discovery of DNA results that belatedly show proof of innocence.

In a 21-page ruling, Justice Anne M. Burke wrote this was a novel argument — “We will acknowledge the irregularity of the claim (Taliani) has raised” — but in the final analysis the high court decided Taliani, even if he had been able to broach the topic of serotonin syndrome at trial, would not have been proven innocent.

“A new defense is a new theory,” Burke wrote. “It is not new evidence.”

The ruling was unanimous, though one justice did not participate. Robert L. Carter had sat on the Third District Appellate Court when it ruled against Taliani at an earlier phase of the case.

Taliani remains scheduled for parole in 2044, when he would be 81 years old.