Archive for the ‘Greg Clark Murder’ Category


The Rockford Police investigation of the death of attorney Greg Clark was not very well done, because it focused on just investigating two people: Richard Wanke and Diane Chavez, and pretty much ignored everyone else. On the other hand, the investigation results themselves are thorough enough to eliminate both Richard and Diane as suspects in this murder.

When the police responded to Clark”s murder they learned that Clark had been shot at twice in the space of several months. The police quickly perceived from each attack, that attorney Greg Clark was not a random murder but a highly skilled one. Attorney Greg Clark was successfully “targeted” for murder under circumstances which required thorough preparation, flexibility, and mobility. His attacker or attackers had to be coordinated and capable of anticipating and reacting to his movements under very unpredictable circumstances.

The first attack on 60 year old Greg Clark happened on Sunday, November 4, 2007, after dusk, outside his house and at 6:30 pm. It was dark and no one could anticipate that a man of Clark’s age would step out of his house at that hour of a Sunday evening. Someone stalked him for awhile to know that he and not his wife took out the trash. Clark however, usually took the trash out on Monday morning and not on a Sunday night. So, whoever stalked attorney Clark caught Clark by chance and was capable of responding quickly to his unpredictable movement on 11/4/07. Who knows how long this entailed waiting outside by his house possibly for hours in a vehicle or on foot and just hoping that he might emerge from it.

The second attempt on 2/6/08, took place during a blizzard and while Clark was snow-blowing his driveway and sidewalk area. Clark was only outside for about 1/2 hour when he was shot. The van with the believed shooter timed it’s arrival so conveniently per witnesses, that it arrived and remained at the murder scene only with sufficient time for the shooter to commit the murder expertly and then quickly leave. One has to ask: The State alleges that Richard Wanke was the shooter, but he was across town at a house in Loves Park until at least 12:50 pm, putting software on a friend’s computer and consulting by Skype with another friend about setting up a webcam on that computer.  The friend saw Richard over Skype and wearing a brown and yellow winter  coat. They spoke on and off over Skype for most of that morning as they worked to install and troubleshoot the computer hardware. Richard left about then to go to his apartment and pick up more software. While at this apartment, Richard took the time to also shovel the front yard of the duplex in which he lived. If Richard Wanke was the shooter in this van, then how did he know so exactly when to travel across town to shoot Clark?

People don’t drive across town in the middle of a heavy snowstorm in order to stalk someone else or to wait outside a residence possibly for hours. No one clears their driveway of snow at any particular time of the day or at any particular frequency. It took Clark only half an hour to clear his three-car driveway of snowing using the relatively new and large-capacity snowblower he owned. Clark might have possibly remained outside for 10 – 15 additional minutes before going back inside his home for hours if not for the remainder of that day. The storm otherwise kept most people home inside their houses. The police check of all phone records showed that Richard Wanke received no suspicious phone calls before Clark’s shooting from anyone who could have been in Clark’s neighborhood that morning of 2/6/08.

Besides, Richard Wanke, knows computers well, and could have easily tracked Clark using some form of tracking software. The police later seized many computers from Richard’s apartment. They found his browsing histories intact on those computers, but no searches to incriminate him and no use of any tracking software.

Shooting Clark successfully during the very limited window of time he opened himself up to being a target either required knowing the moment he came out to begin snow-blowing if one travelled across town to shoot him, or else stationing oneself at hand inside the neighborhood, keeping vigil on his house and movements and then approaching him carefully once he emerged.  The shooter could not hope to stay inconspicuous over time while parked and waiting in any vehicle because of the adverse weather on 2/6/08. Other people and neighbors would have had to navigate around him or them with difficulty in the snow and recall this.

Witnesses did notice and were able to document all the movements of a suspicious dark-blue van relatively well on 2/6/08. It was not inconspicuous even though it was only physically present in the neighborhood a relatively short period of time. The van and shooter did not conduct a vigil over hours of time in the neighborhood, but instead entered and exited it to commit the murder with surgical precision.

At trial, the State, lacking evidence, had to speculate to come up with any alleged connection to paint the picture of Richard Wanke as Clark’s shooter. All the witnesses who claimed to see a suspicious man and a van on 2/6/08, varied on their descriptions of the man and the make, color and year of the van they allegedly saw. At trial, since most said they saw a man dressed in dark clothing, the State took one man’s description of seeing a cuff, and a 7 year old’s description of seeing a gray “hoodie” to combine that into the allegation that Richard Wanke changed the clothing he wore on 2/6/08, and put on a black denim jacket and gray scarf to shoot Clark. That’s a ridiculous assertion to make because no one would have found that combination of clothing adequate to wear in the snow on 2/6/08, or to wear while shooting anyone. Then, the State alleged that Richard Wanke changed back out of this clothing and washed it before he was later picked up by police.

Richard Wanke was only absent a little over an hour from working on his friend’s computer. He did not have time to change clothes, shovel snow and travel to Clark’s and back across town in little more than an hour on 2/6/08. He was back again shortly before 3pm and Skype still showed him wearing his brown and yellow coat, with no gray scarf or dark clothing. Under his coat, he wore khaki color pants, and a navy blue shirt. If he had been Clark’s shooter, someone would have noted his clothing as being colorful rather than all dark. Richard’s attorneys at trial failed to present the witness who Skyped with him on 2/06/08 and saw how he appeared, and who could have related to the jury how Richard did not behave in any manner as the shooter.

Even then, Richard had to be very adept to not error when shooting Clark. The shooting of Clark itself required a presence of mind and at least a fair level of weapons familiarity to execute successfully under the time constraints.  Richard Wanke lacks any firearms history, the history of any violence, stalking or threatening behavior, or such familiarity. It is also doubtful that he could have successfully killed Clark without prior experience.

The police looked at the phone records of both Richard Wanke and Diane Chavez, and they looked at the phone records of their friends and acquaintances and spoke with them. The police examined their financial records as well. The police were unable to find any traces whatsoever of any suspicious contact which Richard Wanke or Diane Chavez had with anyone that could have indicated some type of coordination to carry out both these attacks on Greg Clark or to conduct surveillance on him.

So, even though the Rockford Police investigation was unsuccessful in investigating as broadly as it should have, we can trust that the depth of it’s investigation of Richard Wanke and Diane Chavez was deep and thorough enough that it would have found any complicity in the murder on the part of either or both of them if it had existed. The fact that this Greg Clark murder investigation over 9 years has failed to turn up this information and the absence otherwise of reliable evidence linking either to the Clark murder only goes to prove that neither Richard Wanke nor Diane Chavez had anything to do with the murder.

There were several other suspicious people sighted in Clark’s neighborhood on 2/6/08, going door-to-door or seen elsewhere in the neighborhood. Any one of these could have been stalking Clark or observing him on behalf of a shooter positioned elsewhere. We don’t doubt the eyewitnesses saw a van but it wasn’t Chavez’s purple van. It was a dark-blue van (which were plentiful) and it was not Richard in the van. Whether the van witnesses saw that day was connected to the murder remains an open question. In our minds the likelihood that the shooter was somewhere on foot or was another neighbor is just as probable as that darn van.

Richard Wanke also lacked the mobility required to be Clark’s shooter. The police easily determined that the person or persons responsible for Clark’s murder had to scope them out. When the police received Richard Wanke’s name from the Public Defender’s office the police quickly reacted by detaining Wanke within hours. Yet, even as they did so, they operated at outset knowing that he did not own a vehicle and had not owned one for over a decade. The police had only with the generic description from witnesses of the involvement of an older white male with a grayish hair, a scraggly beard, and eyeglasses. They had no witnesses who initially identified Richard Wanke from photo line-ups. So, while the police operated on the assumption that they had the right suspect and were proceeding against him, they had no verifying proof that they were correct.

When they did the initial research and checked out Richard Wanke, the police encountered a problem: Richard Wanke did not own a vehicle and had not done so for years. Without a vehicle, the police faced a dilemna and question: How did their suspect kill Clark if he lacked the mobility required to stalk him for the length of time it took to successfully kill him?

That is the question that caused the police to drag Diane Chavez into the case. Diane Chavez was the only possible source of mobility for Richard Wanke, if the police could establish that he drove the vehicle she owned which was most similar to the blue van the witnesses saw on 2/6/08. State records showed that Diane Chavez owned a purple 1998 Dodge Caravan with gold wheels. Any discrepancy between the suspect and the witness reports might be regarded with caution under ordinary circumstances, but in a case of this magnitude, the difference between a purple van and uniform reports of a dark blue van seemed minimal given the certainly of belief on the part of the directing investigatory officer that the investigation was off and heading in the right direction. The evidence to show that Diane Chavez was not the woman alleged seen in Clark’s neighborhood the day before this murder and that her van does not match the one witnesses saw or the photo used at trial by the State is on this website.

Rockford Deputy Police Chief Greg Lindmark was assigned to conduct the Clark murder investigation from the outset. He happened to have personally known Richard Wanke from years in the past. His past familiarity with Richard Wanke and information he knew of Wanke’s legal difficulties since were sufficient to convince him that Richard Wanke, killed Greg Clark and that all he had to do was prove it.

Greg Lindmark and Richard Wanke attended Guilford High School together. They did not mix in the same social circles and were not friends. Detective Greg Lindmark was Richard Wanke’s first arresting officer in a 1991 burglary case for which Richard later served three years. Richard Wanke sued Lindmark after due to certain alleged conduct during an interrogation. Although the lawsuit was later dropped, Lindmark kept cropping up at each of Wanke’s subsequent legal issues. So, when the Winnebago County Public Defender’s office dropped Richard Wanke’s name into Lindmark’s investigation early on 2/6/08, as just a possible suspect, Lindmark regarded his involvement in Clark’s murder as a certainty and then directed the investigation in that manner.

This is why the police quickly ultimately arrested and charged Diane Chavez. On 2/6/08, the police had already picked up and revoked Richard Wanke’s bond and had him in custody. Yet they did not have a warrant for him then. None of their witnesses had identified him in any photo line-ups that day as being at the Clark murder. Without establishing some linkage to the Clark murder scene, Lindmark and the Rockford Police would be forced to release Richard Wanke. Lindmark had to justify holding Richard Wanke. The convenient witness who claimed to have seen a petite white woman in her 30’s in a dark-blue van in the driveway of the Clark house the day before the murder and who conveniently identified Diane Chavez as being that woman from a police photo lineup proved to be that sufficient linkage which Lindmark and police required. On the strength of that linkage, police were able to obtain a search warrant for the duplex, arrest Diane Chavez; use a $500k bond to  hold her out of their way, and hopefully Greg Lindmark would then be able to find the proof required to show that Richard Wanke killed Greg Clark.

Only it did not work out that way. The investigation after 9 years of diligence comes up empty on proof and it is time for the public to understand just exactly what happened in this fiasco and to why Richard Wanke became Clark’s murder suspect. We don’t know who killed attorney Greg Clark, but it wasn’t Richard Wanke or Diane Chavez.

Richard Wanke was convicted at trial in March 2008, only because he was not defended by the Winnebago County Public Defender’s office. The Winnebago County PD knew of all the information we have set forth on this website about the Clark murder, how it happened and the proof which exists to show that Richard Wanke and Diane Chavez did not play any roles in Clark’s murder. The Winnebago PD chose not to present any of this evidence at trial; experts to testify on behalf of Richard Wanke, and did not test computer equipment for the exculpatory evidence on them. The question to ask now is, “Why not”?


Let’s review what’s happened at trial:

It’s undisputed that attorney Greg Clark was shot to death on February 6, 2008. At approximately 1:55 PM, he was outside his house on the corner of Oakforest Dr., and Sentinel Rd, in Rockford, using a snowblower to clear snow from sidewalk adjacent to his driveway. Someone came up to him, shot him three times in the back and left. Attorney Clark was on the ground and dead within minutes of being shot.

There was a lot of procedural testimony from first responders and police detectives about what happened after the shooting; who responded to what event, about their job responsibilities, chain-of-custody testimony, what everyone physically did at the murder scene and what evidence and witness reports detectives collected and who they spoke to. HOW DOES MOST OF THAT TESTIMONY MATTER?

IT DOESN’T! The only part of trial testimony that matters as to whether we have the truth of who killed attorney Greg Clark is the reliability of the State’s evidence which they present and allege that it connects Richard Wanke and Diane Chavez to the Greg Clark’s murder scene and then, ONLY BY IMPLICATION, to some involvement in Greg Clark’s murder. So, let’s look at what this evidence consists of:

FIRST: THE FORENSIC EVIDENCE

The State presented most of their prime physical evidence consisting mostly of clothing collected from attorney Greg Clark and suspect Richard Wanke on 2/6 – 2/7/08, phone logs, the 911 tape, an audio tape recording of 5/7/07, meeting between attorney Clark, Richard Wanke, and Diane Chavez, certain oral statements made in court at Richard’s Wanke 2006 burglary case both Clark and Wanke as documented in court transcripts, a photo of Diane Chavez’s ’98 Dodge Caravan, estimates of travel times and routes between Clark’s home and Wanke’s Rockford apartment, part of a gun strap found on the ground at the murder scene, computer address searches, gloves, State driver records, and vehicle search results, the contents of two photo line-ups, and bullet casings .

Forensic experts testified at length about the relevant DNA, fingerprint, gunshot residue, and comparison testing they did on the bullet casings, clothing, gun strap, gloves, and van. The expert testimony is only relevant in showing that the same weapon, a gun, was used in two different attacks on attorney Greg Clark. One occurred on November 7, 2007, and the other on 2/6/08.
The State maintained that although the rest of it’s forensic testing results were negative, that they are also inconclusive That’s trying to put a good spin on it.

Bottom-line

The State found NO incriminating DNA, fingerprint, or gunshot residue on any of the tested items. The only DNA positives it found for Richard Wanke were on items of his own clothing and not those of Greg Clark’s.

SECOND: EYEWITNESS TESTIMONY

There was no eyewitness to attorney Greg Clark’s shooting, so the most important witness testimony concerns the description of any stranger who eyewitnesses saw in the vicinity of the murder scene closest to the time of the murder and the description of any vehicle they drove.

The suspect in the van

Phyllis Clark, attorney Greg Clark’s widow, was the most immediate witness to reach the murder scene. She testified that her husband was outside their house snowblowing for about half an hour before she heard gunshots. She said she went to the window of their house and saw her husband on the ground. She said she saw a man 5’7’’ leave her husband’s side and enter the passenger side of a dark blue van on the street which then headed toward Sentinel Dr.

Various neighbors arriving home in the subdivision reported seeing and driving behind a dark blue van as it entered the subdivision on Sentinel Rd., from the north and headed towards Clark’s house minutes before the shooting. One neighbor passed a dark blue van on the driver’s side when it pulled over to the curb by Clark’s house, and another encountered a dark blue van as it pulled out of the subdivision shortly after the shooting. and turned west onto Rote Rd. Witnesses mostly described the van they saw as being dark blue in color. One said it was blue-green in color. Most said it was a Chrysler product and a Town & Country van. One said it had gold wheels. Each identified the State’s photo of Diane Chavez’s ’98 Dodge Caravan in court as the van they saw on 2/6/08. Several other witnesses described other suspicious and different color and make vehicles they saw in the neighborhood on 2/6/08. No witness saw or recalled the license plate number of the van.

The State photo of Diane Chavez’s ’98 caravan below: the van in this photo only appears to be dark blue because of the type of lighting used by police. There were plenty of dark blue vans in Rockford that looked like this. A few of them are still driving around. No one knows how many dark blue vans there were in total in Rockford in 2008, because the police search of registered vans only searched for 1998 year vans. Nor did they check van registrations from other surrounding cities. And, if you look closely at the hood of van in this picture, you can partly detect the van’s real color.

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The actual color of Diane Chavez’s ’98 van: What difference does a subtle change of color make? EVERYTHING…

If the witnesses all saw a dark-blue van with gold rims on 2/6/08; it wasn’t Diane’s van. It was instead, the normal dark-blue color van which Chrysler has offered as a color for more years. Some of those regular dark-blue older Chrysler Town & Country and Caravan vans are still seen in Rockford today. In 2008, Ford also had a dark-blue Windstar van which can be still be mistaken for either Chrysler or Dodge vans.

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p1020319The photos above are not Diane’s van. We can’t access her van because the police still have it, but these are the normal light photos of a van which is the same model and year as Diane’s: a 1998 Chrysler Caravan. It is a PURPLE, not a BLUE van! And if the eyewitnesses had seen Diane’s van up close and accurately, they would have described purple, not dark-blue. Chrysler offered the paint color Amethyst (Purple) on it’s Dodge Caravans and Chrysler Town & Country vans for several years through 2000. The color is still in use by other car makers today.

The allegations against Diane Chavez.

On this Home page of our website is the above tab, “About Diane Chavez”. We direct you to click on it and review the fallacious evidence the State uses to allege that Diane Chavez was present at Clark’s house on February 5, 2008, the day before the murder and during her lunch hour. The State’s implication is that Diane Chavez somehow assisted Richard Wanke in killing attorney Clark. The State is wrong and that its “evidence” against her is both false and manipulated and makes one question the accuracy of it’s case against Richard Wanke.

Back to the Man

Except for Clark’s wife, the eyewitnesses all saw the man in the van only as he sat behind the wheel of it and drove the van. They uniformly described the driver of the van as an older, white male. Their best estimate was that he was in his 40’s. The police detectives later testified that they were sent looking for a suspect described to them as having “grayish” hair and a “scruffy” beard. At trial, most witnesses seemed to qualify their mention of gray hair to being brownish and pulled back in a pigtail. A couple mentioned eyeglasses and one mentioned large eyeglasses worn by the man. Most said the man seemed to be wearing dark clothing, and one witness was adamant he recognized by the sleeve he saw that the driver wore a black demin jacket like one of the State’s exhibits. Every witness identified Richard in court as being the man they saw driving the van.

There was an unexplained discrepancy in the eyewitness testimony concerning who was in the van. The testimony of Clark’s wife, who saw a man enter a van on the passenger side before it left, and a then 7 year old child who testified that she saw a white man standing by the passenger side of a van by Clark before the shooting. If every witness saw the same dark blue van, then there was possibly more than one person in that van. One witness testified that they followed a van which pulled over to the curb by Clark’s house, which would be the right side curb of Oakforest Dr. At least two other witnesses said they followed a van as it entered the subdivision heading towards Clark’s house. Clark’s wife and the child witness saw the van parked facing the opposite direction: on Oakforest Dr., but pointed towards Sentinel Drive.

Every eyewitness testified that police showed them each six photos of different suspects on 2/6/08, and each witness in turn failed to identify Richard Wanke’s photograph on the day of the murder as the photo of the man they saw driving the van. Mrs. Clark too failed on 2/6/08, to pick Richard Wanke’s photo out as being the man she saw that day leaving the body of her husband. Each of them only days later called by the police to report that Richard Wanke, was the man they saw, after they saw the following several articles and photos published in the Rockford-Register Star on February 9, & 10, 2008.

What did all the eyewitnesses see and read in the Rockford Register-Star before they identified Richard Wanke as the suspect?

The articles the Rockford Register Star published on February 9, and February 10, which named Richard Wanke, and Diane Chavez as suspects in the Clark murder investigation even though Richard Wanke had not yet been identified by eyewitnesses as a man in the blue van.

The first article, “Double drama in court” which appeared in print on February 9, 2008, is a front-page triple article in one which continues on the next two pages inside. It shows a photo of Richard Wanke with dark hair and a beard. It identifies both Richard Wanke, and Diane Chavez, as police suspects in the Greg Clark murder investigation by saying that both a judge and attorney linked them to it in court. A chronology of Richard Wanke’s 2006 burglary case is at the top of the second page along with an article about the shooting aftermath at the bottom of the page. That second page is almost a full page devoted to information about the murder.

The article “Jailed duo helped each other” appeared the next day on February 10, 2008. Each of these Rockford Register-Star identifications and articles clearly influenced each of the eyewitnesses in this case. On our blog under this Home page tab “Unreliabiltiy of Eyewitness Testimony” is information about how easily and unconsciously eyewitness recollections are influenced by many factors and are often erroneous no matter how certain witnesses feel and testify about what they saw. You should review this information.

Bottom Line:

February 6, 2008, was one of the heaviest snowfalls in Winnebago County. At times it was almost a blizzard outside. Snow was heavy on the ground at the time of the shooting and snow was falling. Most of the eyewitnesses in this case were arriving home because of the weather. They were focused on driving in the snow and keeping their windshields clear of it. They were not that focused on the vehicles around them or the drivers of those vehicles. If they had been and if they each saw the van and the man driving it as clearly and completely as they claim, they would recall at least part, if not all of a license plate, the make and color of the van correctly, or would have agreed on the physical description of the driver, what he was wearing, and whether there was one person or two in the van.The eyewitness testimony in this whole case is unreliable.

THIRD: MOTIVE

The State played an audio micro cassette tape to the jury which allegedly contains the audio of a 25 minute meeting between Attorney Greg Clark, Richard Wanke, and Diane Chavez on 5/7/2008. It may actually be an earlier March 2007 meeting. Much of the tape is inaudible and difficult to distinguish. The Rockford Register-Star printed a small portion of the conversation on it:

“…Wanke wanted Clark to use photos of a minivan owned by Chavez in the burglary case. Clark questioned the significance of someone keying Chavez’s van or using photos of windshield wipers.

“I don’t know. That’s not my job,” said a man investigators identified as Wanke.
“Whose job is it? Whose job is it to determine materiality?” a man believed to be Clark responds. “Is it my job? What percentage is my job and what percentage is your job?…”
RRSTAR article about the audio tape
The State wants us to believe that Richard Wanke and Greg Clark had such an “tumultuous” relationship; that it was antagonistic enough to cause Richard Wanke to kill his attorney. The State claims that statements made by both such as the above and the text of court transcripts from Richard’s 2006, burglary trial for the theft of a laptop computer prove that Richard’s “state of mind’ motivated him to kill attorney Clark. The State exaggerates what hostility took place between attorney Clark and Richard Wanke and wrongly blames Wanke for all of it.
This audio tape exchange, shows Clark not cooperating with Richard Wanke when reviewing evidence that Wanke feels may be used at trial. Clark puts Wankd down when he tries to point out that the light-blue van had obvious physical damage that a State witness failed to note on the van he saw at the burglary scene and which he described to police as being silver in color. Keying, wipers, etc can be relevant when a witness claims it was your van he saw up close but then somehow misses seeing what he should have. Wanke didn’t know if what he had was useful for trial. He was consulting Clark, and Clark treated him poorly and was obviously antagonistic. The full length of the tape contains similar content but no obscenities are exchanged and there is a reconciliation of sorts at the end of it. The tape is not the “smoking gun” the State wants us to believe it is.
The court transcripts of Richard’s burglary case show it was attorney Clark, not Wanke who first complained to the court on March 7, 2007, that the other was not communicating with him. Even then, both Clark on page three says there was no hostility between them and Richard agreed on page six saying, that they were very courteous with each other, and it was just a difference of opinion.
The March 14, 2007 transcript


Wanke merely spoke up in his own defense. Attorney Clark pushed the court to admonish his client. If the court transcripts indicate resentment by either, it wasn’t Richard Wanke, but Clark who later on May 7, 2007, on page 13, told the court that he wasn’t used to being left out of the loop by a client and that he didn’t like it. Page 24 of May 7, 2007, Clark was upset enough with Wanke that he stood back when the judge pushed Richard Wanke to trial.
The May 7, 2007 transcript


Richard Wanke didn’t know at the time what was going on. He didn’t know that Clark had everyone meet the Friday before without him on May 4, 2007. He didn’t know that Clark had confessed that he advised Wanke wrongly about the length of his potential sentence and was requesting a continuance for that reason.

The May 4, 2007 transcript


May 4, 2007, and May 7, 2007, are the only two times in the nearly three year course of Richard’s burglary case where there is  emotion in the court record the State is now trying to use, and it was attorney Clark who was upset, and who reacted poorly, not Richard Wanke. Richard Wanke was out on bond in 2/06/08; something few defendants who lose jury trials are allowed. This was due to the court’s recognition of all the years in which he had complied with all court rules and was civil.
Bottom Line:

Defendants and attorneys regularly disagree about trial strategy and the relevance of evidence. Both sides hash out their arguments in court and in court filings. No revelation about that. Defendants are often held in contempt of court when they speak out of turn or disrespect someone. That did not happen here. There were no public arguments between Greg Clark and Richard Wanke. They were very civil to each other inside and out of court no matter what tension existed. Clark had represented Richard Wanke for six years (not one year as the State maintains) amicably before on another case, and his mistakes created the pretrial tension between them in Wanke’s burglary case. Had anyone of the court; the judge, the attorneys, the bailiff’s etc., seen threats or true anger exchanged between Clark and Richard, the Court would have immediately stepped in to intervene. Attorney Clark would have been removed from Wanke’s case. Richard Wanke would have been held in contempt of court or even criminally charged with misconduct. Violence of any sort is not tolerated in courts and the State has no witnesses who can show that any disagreements between Clark and Wanke exceeded the usual tension generally present in criminal defense. Richard was not a legal novice. He knew well that Clark’s death would not dismiss his case or improve his lot. At best, it would just cause a new attorney unfamiliar with him to do a worse job of advocating for him at sentencing. At worse, he could anticipate receiving the worst sentence possible as a murder suspect.

SUMMATION

The lack of forensic evidence against Richard Wanke, the unreliability and inaccuracy of the eyewitness testimony against him, and the State’s attempt to make a mountain out of a molehill regarding Richard Wanke’s alleged motive to kill Greg Clark does not prove that Richard Wanke killed attorney Greg Clark. Far from it. Stay tuned, and in a couple of days, we will explain to you how the State’s evidence and the murder investigation instead proves that Richard Wanke did not kill Greg Clark! And, we will show the bias on the part of Rockford Police Deputy Chief, Greg Lindmark, who headed this investigation that made Richard Wanke the suspect.

 


The prosecution in this case wants the public and jury to find that a defendant’s disagreements with his attorney are sufficient motivation for him to kill his attorney. This is what their case against Richard Wanke boils down to regarding the murder of attorney Greg Clark.

The defense says that disagreements between criminal defense attorneys and their clients are pretty common and no reason to find a defendant guilty of murder since few defendants kill their attorneys. Those that do are quick-tempered, violent, and have violence in their past. Richard Wanke, is not a violent or angry defendant, and the State has no evidence showing that Richard was involved, let alone present at Greg Clark’s murder scene.  Attorney Clark was shot on 2/6/08, but no gun has ever been recovered. Richard’s never owned a weapon, and there still are no fingerprints, no DNA, in fact, no physical evidence linking Richard to the Clark murder

Richard had, in fact, amicable relations with Clark, for over six years prior to 2008. Their relationship, even then, was no different than that of most defendants and criminal defense attorneys. Public Defender Zimmerman stated forthrightly that Richard Wanke did not kill Greg Clark. Richard, Zimmerman declares, had nothing to gain from the death of Greg Clark.

Richard Wanke, and Deputy Chief Greg Lindmark, were not friends when they attended Guilford High School together. Deputy Chief Greg Lindmark was later sued by Richard, and in 2/08 he was put in charge of the Clark murder investigation. Lindmark’s direction of the Clark murder investigation was the reason why Richard became it’s suspect.

The prosecution is presenting it’s evidence in trial now. They’ve presented photographs and testimony and maps and Power Point charts and 911 audio. A full hour and a half of presentation has shown that Greg Clark was killed on a snowy day in 2008, but does not identify who might have committed this act. My impression is that they are trying to sway the jury with an avalanche of testimony and graphics. The sheer mass of evidence, although not relevant to who did the act, is impressive, but this investigation has been 9 years in the making.

More notes to follow; thank you for taking interest in Richard’s fate.

On day two, the prosecutors soft-balled questions to various witnesses about conversations between Richard and Greg Clark. Defendants disagree with their lawyers, which leads both sides often making their arguments in court and in court filings. No revelation about that. There were no public arguments between Greg Clark and Richard Wanke. They were very civil to each other outside of court no matter what they each said before the judge. Had anyone of the court; the judge, the attorneys, the bailiff’s etc., seen threats or true anger exchanged between Clark and Richard, the Court would have immediately stepped in and intervened.Violence of any sort is not tolerated in Courts. Richard Wanke was out on bond in 2/08; something few defendants who lose jury trials are allowed. This is due in large part to the length of time he complied with all court rules. The state has no witnesses who saw or heard anything negative between Richard and Clark. Richard had nothing to gain from Clark’s death, but everything to lose once he became the murder suspect.

There were some fireworks on day two when a detective admitted that he neglected, or maybe decided not to write his report on the crime scene until March 31. He had been the top ranking officer at the February 6 murder scene until others, including Deputy Chief Greg Lindmark, arrived. Regulations “require” that officers write reports before their shifts end. His shift lasted 53 days. Additionally, the detective conveniently made no mention of a conversation he allegedly had with the officer who had surveyed the neighborhood, and who had interviewed important witnesses. There was also testimony about the detective’s demotion from detective status, and then his subsequent promotion, at later date. The date of that promotion was not revealed in Wednesday’s testimony.


Anybody who looks at the performance of private prisons can see that they end up costing us more, harm more people, fail to rehabilitate, and should not be used.

“…Sally Yates, then the deputy attorney general, said in a memo that research had found private prisons “simply do not provide the same level of correctional services, programs, and resources” and “do not save substantially on costs” either. Essential government education and training programs for prisoners “have proved difficult to replicate and outsource” in the private sector, she said…”

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/feb/23/trump-revives-private-prison-program-doj-obama-administration-end


Well, it has been over 9 very long years for our friend, Richard Wanke, who is finally going to trial. His jury selection ended this morning and last minute matters will be heard tomorrow morning. Then, his trial begins Monday with opening statements.

Opening statements from each side will summarize what each side plans to prove by their evidence. Then, from that point forward we get to judge how well they do.

We want to thank everyone who has supported Richard over the years and those who have also contributed and helped with this blog. We hope to see you at trial!

WHERE: 4th floor, old Winnebago County Courthouse, 401 W. State St., Rockford, IL (Take elevators to the fourth floor and follow corridor right around to the very last courtroom; Judge Collins court in room 478.

WHEN: Beginning Monday 2/27/17, at 9am.

PLEASE: Remember to turn cellphones off (they get confiscated if they go off in courtroom), no cameras or recorders are allowed, and please sit on the Defense side (left side of courtroom and behind the defendant) in support of Richard.

Thank-you.

 

 


An AP article was just posted about a defendant in Atlanta, GA who has been sitting in jail and waiting to go to trial for the past 10 years:

“Kharon Davis has spent nearly 10 years in jail. He’s had four sets of attorneys, with two judges on the bench. His co-defendants’ cases have wrapped up. Davis has appeared in court for several hearings, and a new prosecutor is assigned.

But Davis has had no trial. There’s been no jury, no verdict, no conviction. Police say he killed a man in a drug deal gone wrong, but he hasn’t had his day in court. He’s charged with capital murder and could face the death penalty. Trial dates have come and gone, and it’s now scheduled for September. By then, 10 years and three months will have passed since the crime.

The Constitution guarantees suspects “the right to a speedy trial.” Capital cases often take a year or longer to get to trial, but 10 years is rare – experts call it shocking and say it could be unconstitutional. Prisoner advocates and court-watchers say such delays take an exhaustive toll on suspects stuck behind bars and on victims’ families, who are robbed of closure that can come from trials…”

Read the full article at: http://www.waff.com/story/34537151/10-years-in-jail-and-still-no-trial-for-murder-suspect

 And, locally, the Richard Wanke case

Since yesterday, when it was announced that jury selection for Richard Wanke’s trial for the murder of Greg Clark has just started, some persons have been expressing surprise on social media that it has taken so long for this trial to start and wondering how and why this can happen. Wanke’s case isn’t taking 10 years to come to trial like Kharon Davis’s case, but it is now over 9 years since the Clark murder occurred in 2008, and the effect in Davis’s and Richard’s cases are the same; they have both spent literally years behind bars without their guilt or innocence being heard at trial. This amazes people because it’s hard for them to imagine just sitting in jail so long without trial or the right to one. We all generally believe that justice works faster and that people are protected from such harm until trial.

Yet both been Kharon Davis and Richard Wanke have been stuck in this legal quandary for years unable to do anything about it. 

The way each was put into legal limbo differs, but they’ve have no remedy. The Davis article discusses the constitutional right of defendants to a “Speedy Trial”, which, if exercised by a defendant can ensure that the defendant is brought to trial within a relatively short time span; sometimes that of a year and-a-half. This is important because serious cases virtually ensure that defendants are held jailed and held without bond the entire time they await trial.

What the Davis article fails to clarify is that currently the right to a speedy trial is interpreted to apply only to ensure that the State must not delay and if the speedy trial right is invoked by a defendant, then the State is forced to act and take you to trial quickly or the courts can throw a case out or dismiss it even without trial due to overlong delay. The Davis article does not say if Davis or his attorneys ever submitted a speedy trial request. Richard Wanke did so on his own the first time he appeared in Winnebago County court on the murder charge. If Davis’s attorneys did not protect his right, then they were ineffective at the time and may have cost him the opportunity to properly challenge the State.

The problem is that the Right to a Speedy Trial is not regarded as enforceable when the defendant’s own attorney or defense delays trial, and this has been the predicament facing both Davis and Richard Wanke  for the past several years. 

The Davis article explains how Davis has been harmed by repeated delays by his attorneys. His first attorney, Benjamin Meredith, should have immediately known to step off the case because his son was involved in it’s investigation. His second attorney, Derek Yarbrough, apparently took his sweet time or did nothing on the case till Davis yelled and had him removed. His third attorney had a conflict-of-interest and it appropriately only took him a few weeks to withdraw. His 4th, and most important attorney who will probably be stuck doing the job and representing Davis properly, has only been on the case since June 2016, and will now have a very hard time coming up to speed on it and doing the basic work on the case which probably hasn’t been done. Now, after all this time that county court although it wouldn’t comment on the handling of Davis’s case, it is probably aware of it and might now monitor it carefully to bring it to trial relatively quickly. Of course, there’s also a new prosecutor on the case so if Davis files his Speedy request now, it might now just apply.

In Richard Wanke’s situation, the State completely investigated his case and still waited years past 2008 to charge him with the murder, gambling on the small probability that it would uncover new, definitive evidence of his guilt. That says more about the weakness of the State’s case against Richard Wanke than anything else. Six years later in 2014, when it did charge him, the State was fully prepared and the defense was non-existant. From then to now, the trial delay has been caused by the defense taking time to learn the case and defend it. Richard hasn’t been able to do anything about that delay except sit waiting in jail.

The Davis article mentions how exhausting and stressful the wait for trial is. Just the example of the machinations in Davis’s defense team above illustrate the rise and fall of stress a defendant can face while waiting to learn his fate. It also mentions a likelihood that defendants will be physically (or psychologically too) damaged by the long wait in jail in close confinement, even in isolation, and away from those they love.  Davis’ mother says her son’s health is “suffering”. He was age 22 when first arrested. Since arrested in 2008, Richard Wanke’s health, aged 49 too has suffered from imprisonment and, he will appear at trial using court head-phones to hear, because he’s lost 50% of his hearing by an assault behind bars.

While both Davis and Wanke might have a legal claim on the unconstitutionality of the time and process they have endured to get to trial, the reader can bet they’d have a difficult time finding an attorney to aggressively fight the issue for them. This is just one of the ways in which defendants regularly lose out in the criminal justice system.


ROCKFORD — “It’s breathtaking. Oh my goodness,” a Rockford man said after emerging from the Winnebago County Jail into the sunshine this afternoon after more than 23 years behind bars for a murder he and his supporters maintain he didn’t commit.John Horton Jr., 40, was convicted of the 1993 murder of Arthur Castaneda in Rockford. Horton was 17 years old when Castaneda was fatally shot during a robbery at a McDonald’s restaurant, located at that time at 2715 Charles St. He was sentenced

Source: John Horton of Rockford free after more than 2 decades in prison


By Isaac Guerrero Staff writer
ROCKFORD – Woman shot while sitting at kitchen table in Rockford home. 1 dead, 1 injured in shooting. 5 homes hit by gunfire.

Headlines like those, posted to our website and plastered on the pages of this newspaper in recent weeks, sound scary. But experts say you shouldn’t confuse fear of crime with the actual risk of crime, which has been declining in Rockford since 2000. Violent crime, however, the stuff that captures headlines, has risen.

All but four of the 32 homicides in Winnebago County last year – the county’s highest homicide tally since 1996 – were in Rockford, where violent crime in 2015 increased 24 percent compared with 2014. The latest statistics from the FBI reveal violent crime increased 6 percent during the first six months of 2016 compared with the first half of 2015.

But is our fear of violent crime greater than our risk of violent crime? Because there’s lots of things in Rockford to be afraid of.

Rockford police reported in 2014 that there were 19 times as many people injured in car accidents – 1,211 – as were injured by gunfire – 104.

There were an average 29 suicides, 634 cancer deaths and 339 deaths attributed to heart disease annually from 2007 through 2011 in Winnebago County, according to Rockford Health Council. There were an average 20 homicides a year in the county during the same five-year period.

“People take risks on the fly every day,” said Kirk Miller, a criminologist and professor of sociology at Northern Illinois University.

“They’ll run through a yellow light, for example, which empirically represents a much larger risk in terms of your physical well-being and others’ well-being. But it’s more acceptable in society to run a yellow light because that doesn’t capture the fear and anxiety of these more dramatic events like a mass shooting or a homicide in an otherwise well-regarded location like a school or an airport or a good neighborhood.”

Source: Weighing fear and danger in Rockford as the city’s violent crime rate rises


My friend Richard Wanke will be tried for the murder of attorney Greg Clark in Rockford’s most sensational courtroom drama perhaps ever. Trial is in Room 487 of the Winnebago County Courthouse with Judge Rosemary Collins presiding.

Attorney Clark, was shot dead on the sidewalk of his home Feb. 6, 2008, in the middle of a severe snowstorm.

Jury selection will begin February 21, 2017.

Greg Clark was a long-time private practice attorney. Rockford’s legal community was rightfully shocked at this brutal murder. They expected an effective investigation and successful prosecution. The proper functioning of our legal system seems to demand this whenever a prominent or well-liked citizen is a victim of violence, because anything less seems unfair to us.

Yet, when sensational murders of prominent citizens put tremendous pressure on police, police officials sometimes make the mistake of rushing to judgement, of targeting the first suspect they uncover. 

I question whether the state has any substantial forensic evidence to hold my friend, Richard Wanke, accountable for Clark’s death. Prosecutors appear to be relying on the questionable eyewitness reports from a blizzard-plagued day eight years ago; and over the passage of time, witnesses become unavailable and their memories less reliable. The one person in charge of the entire investigation in 2008, Greg Lindmark, committed suicide in February 2015, and is no longer even available to answer any of our questions about the direction in which he led the entire investigation from day one. 

The State maintains that it is most reasonable to assume that Clark was a target and that he was killed him by one of his criminal clients. Yet, attorney Greg Clark had a general law practice and represented mostly civil clients. Is it reasonable for the police to assume that a client of Clark’s in a criminal case killed Clark, when statistics show that violence in murders such as his are more likely to arise from family members, friends, or even from clients in more contentious disputes such as divorce or family cases? Richard Wanke fits their bill because he was a criminal client of Clark’s who lost a trial shortly before in 2007. The State alleges that his relationship with Clark was antagonistic enough to cause him to kill him.

Richard was quickly arrested the night of Clark’s death, and was held but not charged. Instead, six months later he was sentenced to 14 years for the theft of a laptop computer that belonged to a Rockford College art professor. No one else was charged with Clark’s murder for six years as the police continued their investigation of the murder. If the police evidence was that clear against Richard, then why this delay? Prosecutors didn’t charge Richard with the crime until April 2014. Was there any new evidence, or is the state going with the evidence they have had for all these years? After the indictment, Richard’s lawyer stated that the police and State showed that no new evidence had been collected.

The State’s story is that Richard had complained about Clark’s representation in his criminal case, and that this motivated him afterward to kill Clark on 2/6/08. Can we believe this? The defense will undoubtable point out that losing a trial seldom causes people to murder their attorney, and that there were other people who knew Clark who may have had better motive to kill him but who were not investigated by police in their rush to judgement.

What will happen at this trial remains to be seen. However, as a long-time friend of Richard Wanke’s I’ve never known him to be a violent person. Instead, I know him to be a level-headed and intelligent human being who worked to resolve problems and to help others. He ran the Peace Store (as a volunteer) on Seventh Street and was a vegetarian who was very involved in community festivals like Block 5 and On The Waterfront. He is a talented artist who can draw wonderfully and was curator of the Ethnic Heritage Museum, In 2008, he was busy editing the newsletter for Stateline Jazz Society, leading a weekly writer’s workshop, and working with the local Mac user group, fixing computers for schools, and fixing computers for friends. He was never known to be physically aggressive or to use a weapon. I know of so many instances over of years when Richard came up with ideas for others and helped them out on projects for free. I also know him to be too sensible to expect that killing anyone after would help him out in any way. I do not believe he killed Clark. 

Also, anybody with any brains knows that if you are going to kill your attorney, it makes more sense to do it before trial or from prison and not before sentencing when that deed will likely add years to any sentence you receive. Richard is intelligent enough to know that and has shown enough patience in working thru the criminal justice system to show that he could never lose his temper enough to become violent.

Richard Wanke’s situation and prosecution has been a dilemma for our community from the start; a question of impartiality. Do our local police conduct investigations well when under major community pressure? Do our prosecutors make the right decisions when the victim is a member of the legal community and someone they know? Can and should our local public defenders have to grapple with the loss of one of their own and then have to turn around and adequately represent the one defendant who is charged with committing this crime. Richard Wanke lacks the money to hire high-priced defense attorneys and so the Public Defender is charged to defend him in this case. Public defender, Nick Zimmerman, has a tough job and lacks the type of money and resources from outset of the State’s Attorney. The State’s case against Richard appears to be weak, but only his trial will show us how well our legal system really works.

Charles Worboys is a Rockford resident.

Note: the remarks and contents, as posted above, are the only accurate version of this article.


https://www.aclu.org/issues/mass-incarceration/privatization-criminal-justice/private-prisons