Diane Chavez Acquitted of all Charges on March 9, 2015!

Press Release:

Diane Chavez was acquitted today by Chief Judge Joseph McGraw, following a stipulated bench trial conducted before him.

Diane was arrested on February 6, 2008, in connection with the Greg Clark murder investigation; the same day that Richard Wanke’s bond was revoked and he was picked up and also jailed.

Diane was charged in 2008 with 2 counts of “Obstruction of Justice” for allegedly lying to the police when she said that Richard Wanke did not live with her in her apartment at 1113 Grant Ave, but that he was her tenant and lived in the apt below her at 1111 Grant Ave.

The police wanted to search Diane’s duplex on February 6, 2008, and she refused to allow the search without proper warrants. The Rockford Police and the State used their assertion that she lied with respect to where Richard lived as constituting some type of obstruction of the police murder investigation.

In reality, Richard’s address in February 2008 was immaterial. The police obtained search warrants without delay or trouble; searched both Grant Ave apartments and found nothing that incriminates anyone in the Clark murder. The police also obviously intended to search both of the separate apartments in the duplex anyways from the outset.  They knocked on the door of 1111 Grant Ave first. Finding no one home, they then knocked on 1113 Grant next and spoke to Diane Chavez who was at home in her apartment. Despite asserting that Diane lied to them, the police then did not believe or use any information Diane Chavez gave them at the time about where Richard lived.  If they had relied upon her information they would have gotten a search warrant only for 1111 Grant Ave where she said Richard lived. The police went ahead a got the search warrants they wanted for each apartment without encountering any delay or problems obtaining them.

Legal rulings in cases since 2008, clarify that it does not matter if defendants lie or speak truth to the police. What matters is if their actions or statements in some way materially obstruct or impede police in the conduct of an investigation. Here, Diane Chavez’s actions and statements did not even play a part in determining what the police had to do and how they had to do it; except that she did require them to get search warrants, and that was her undisputed right to require before they searched her duplex.

Six relentless years have gone by since Diane was charged in 2008. Diane Chavez was first forced to endure an erroneous conviction by jury trial in August 12 – 13, 2013 which failed to meet the legal definition for obstruction of justice. The entire transcript of the August 2013 trial (minus jury selection on day one) is below:

The testimony of officer Jason Bailey on pages 130 – 133, is the only important trial testimony and gets to the crux of the issue. Bailey testified that he had no problems drawing up or obtaining the search warrants. He also relied up information from Detective Lee, not Diane Chavez, when doing so. This was the only important activity that Diane Chavez could have materially obstructed since both she and Richard Wanke were already in police custody at the time.

The factual accuracy of Richard Wanke’s address is immaterial since the State has yet to show that he had anything to do with the Clark murder in 2008. Important information to show where he did live exists and was not shown or provided to the jury at Diane’s trial in 2013. It was a strategic decision not to submit this evidence because the defense chose to rely upon the correct argument that whether Diane lied about this or not was irrelevant as her actions and statements did not meet any legal requirement to find that she obstructed the police investigation.

The State claimed at trial that Diane lied in 2007 when she testified at Richard’s hearing that he was her tenant and that he lived separate from her. But neither Diane nor Richard could have foreseen in 2006 – 2007 that their addresses would ever be factually disputed or raised in connection with a murder investigation, and it is far-fetched now to claim that they deliberately manufactured false records just to obstruct a future criminal investigation when they had no way to know or control how such an investigation would ever be conducted. There also does exist Diane’s December 2007 email to her alderperson concerning a snow parking ticket (also shown below in which she also mentions the existence of a “tenant” at the time prior to Clarks’ murder and which refutes the police allegation that she was anywhere near the scene of the murder the day before it happened.) We still maintain that Diane Chavez, did not lie to the police at all on February 6, 2008, when she told them that she was the owner of the duplex and lived at 1113 Grant Ave, and that Richard Wanke was her tenant and lived in 1111 Grant Ave.

Diane’s Snow Parking Ticket Email & Payment Verification

Diane Chavez has been forced to endure first extreme hardship, then false conviction during the past six years while hoping that someone in authority would set the record straight and acquit her. Judge McGraw has now done so by acquitting her and we thank him for being a judge who in our perception properly follows the evidence and does his job. There are not many like him who bring the level of scholarship, impartiality, and thoroughness to the bench as he does. He is an asset to the Winnebago County justice system. Judge McGraw has made the right choice by acquitting Diane Chavez of all charges outright, and we thank him for doing so.

Diane’s attorney, Stephen Richards, from Chicago, deserves the largest amount of credit for Diane’s acquittal. Few attorneys show the level of commitment to their clients that he showed to her and aggressively pursuing her case even through very rough times. Very few criminal defense attorneys are as capable and as experienced as he is in courtroom representation, legal argument and research, and in legal strategy, and even fewer actually listen to their clients and treat them with respect and equality no matter how difficult they may be at times. Stephen Richards’ heart is in the right place and he always adheres to ethics and considers his clients no matter how hard the decisions are to make. We wholeheartedly endorse and recommend him to any person in need of serious legal representation in criminal matters. Plus, he is just a nice guy to work with. You will not find more trustworthy counsel.

One other critical item of business still remains: moving toward the acquittal of or dismissal of all charges against Richard Wanke regarding the murder of attorney Greg Clark. Richard Wanke’s case information is updated on this website:richardwanke.com as his case progresses. Status still shows the State also has no credible evidence linking him to the Clark murder which still officially remains an unsolved case. Area legislator, John Cabello, advocates the return of the Death Penalty in IL. But it is cases such as Richard and Diane’s which show just how much IL still needs to work to ensure that no one is ever wrongfully convicted.

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