Posts Tagged ‘Diane Chavez’


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.

p1020313

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.

 

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


Source: Prison treats inmates too harshly – Rockford Register Star


Decatur – Today Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice, Rita B. Garman, announced that news cameras are permitted in Illinois courtrooms.   The decision comes after a four year pilot project which allowed media cameras in certain courtrooms on an experimental basis.   Macon County State’s Attorney, Jay Scott, says he’s not a big fan of the Extended Media Coverage or (EMC).   “I really wasn’t in favor of it when they came out with the idea of cameras in the courtroom,” says Scott. “After doing the one trial that’s been televised in Macon County it’s like we didn’t even know the cameras were there.”   Scott says that he thinks the cameras could create an uncomfortable atmosphere for witnesses.   “I think is some cases you’re going to have people not wanting to come to court to testify,” says Scott. “I think in those situations when you’re dealing with very dangerous criminals that are on trial it could have an intimidating effect on witnesses.”   According to the Illinois Supreme Court, the continued goal of promoting transparency, accountability and accessibility to the court system is why cameras were implemented in courtrooms.   Only 15 judicial circuits in the state of Illinois have been approved to use cameras in courtrooms. Those circuits that have not joined will not be forced to do so.   Chief Judge of the Sixth Judicial Court in Illinois, Dan Flannell, says that Macon County has been a part of the pilot project and will now be grandfathered in with the new policy to continue to have EMC in the courtrooms.

Source: Illinois Supreme Court adopts permanent policy for Extended Media Coverage in courtrooms | NowDecatur


It is not easy to win a criminal acquittal; not by jury and not through a bench trial. It has been six agonizing years for Diane Chavez, as a criminal defendant. Today, she was exonerated:

Diane Chavez was acquitted today following a stipulated bench trial.

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 the tenant of the duplex she owned 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 Wanke lived as constituting some type of obstruction of the police murder investigation.

Wanke’s address in February 2008 was really immaterial. The police obtained search warrants without clay or trouble; searched both Grant Ave apartments and found nothing that incriminated anyone in the Clark murder. It is apparent that when the police first arrived at the duplex they intended to search both of it’s apartments at the outset. They testified at trial that they knocked on the downstairs door of 1111 Grant Ave first, and then went to 1113 Grant Ave when no one responded. At 1113 Grant Ave, the police spoke to Diane Chavez who was home in her apartment.


Local Attorneys Seem to Have Problems Watching What They Say in Public!

Sitting State’s Attorney, Democrat, Joe Bruscato is facing a challenge this November for his office, from Republican, Glen Weber. Now, up to this debate, we were kinda simpathetic to the election plight of Mr. Weber. See, we’ve watched the press splash the news across the area about Weber’s censureship by the IL Supreme Court stemming from a “…May recommendation from the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission that Weber be censured for making improper statements to juries in four criminal cases that took place in Winnebago County and Jo Daviess County between 1999 and 2003…” The IL Supreme Court upheld the censure from a complaint filed in 2007, and Weber is now one of 18 out of 91,000 IL state attorneys who have been officially censured for various matters. We thought it somewhat coincidental that Weber’s case just happened to be decided by the IL Supreme Court just in the nick of time to place him in a negative light in the eyes of county voters just when he happens to be challenging Bruscato for office. It just put a bad taste in our mouths…

But now, here Weber goes again, just freshly censored and seemingly happy to do the same thing all over again! We don’t know if Weber has had the chance to review any of the evidence in the Greg Clark murder investigation (as a non-party, he should have no access to the sealed court case evidence), but he appears happy enough to publicly state conclusively that “…We all know who killed Greg, and here we are over 3½ years into this man’s term and no charge…”after the IL Supreme Court decision summary  states of Weber’s conduct that Weber previously “…alluded to matters he did not reasonably believe to be true” and made prejudicial statements during trial…” (RRSTAR articles below) Considering that the conviction in one of Weber’s past four cases was overturned by the IL Appellate Court, in part, because it found that Weber’s “improper remarks” deprived the defendant of a “fair trial”, one would think that Weber by now would be considering any remarks he makes concerning any criminal investigation very carefully and making sure they are only factual. Further, if Weber can’t restrain himself and has to select ANY on-going criminal investigation to talk about with any degree of certainty, why the heck would he make himself a target of ridicule and criticism by talking about an investigation which, after four-and-a-half years has been officially labeled as an “unsolved murder” by the Rockford Police Department?????

So, it is official; we are not backing Glen Weber for the office of Winnebago County State’s Attorney. Glen Weber is not the only local attorney to speak ill-advisedly (in our opinion) of the lack of criminal charges being brought against either Richard Wanke, or Diane Chavez, in connection with the 2008 Greg Clark murder. Attorney Bart Henbest also commented publicly in May 2012, (see article below), but, at least, we can understand why he would feel a need for closure on Clark’s death, considering his position as Clark’s relative. Unfortunately, while it seems that many murder victim families believe that such closure is achieved with a conviction, studies show that that is not always often the case, as the loss suffered continues to pervade their future lives as it happens with inmates wrongfully convicted and released after a long imprisonment.

But we cannot excuse or understand Weber’s impetus to publicly make remarks we feel are ignorant, harmful, and inappropriate concerning the Clark murder investigation. We have to wonder how the RRSTAR can send a reporter to cover the debate who fails to confront a candidate with the question of the appropriateness  of his remarks given the current status of an on-going investigation. Sadly, it appears to us that the RRSTAR again does not perform it’s community duty to question substance but merely likes good “sound bites”. It appears to us that Glen Weber is too willing to discard propriety and to disregard anyone else’s reputation in his eagerness to assume the SA’s office. We hope he is taught a lesson come November 2012, if not  sooner.

Joe Bruscato and Glen Weber square off before their own

By Chris Green
Posted Sep 19, 2012 @ 11:25 PM

LOVES PARK — Incumbent Winnebago County State’s Attorney Joe Bruscato and private practice attorney Glen Weber spoke Wednesday night at a forum at the Forest Hills Country Club as if they were delivering closing arguments to a jury as to why each should be elected the county’s top prosecutor come Nov. 6.

“You do have a clear choice in this election for state’s attorney,” Bruscato said, “You can elect a lawyer and prosecutor or you can elect a prosecutor, an administrator, an advocate, a steward, a mentor and a leader.”

Weber said the choice is between “an experienced trial lawyer and someone who has virtually no experience whatsoever trying serious criminal cases in the courtroom.”

The two spoke before members of the Winnebago County Bar Association. More than 50 people were in attendance.
Unlike a traditional debate, the candidates were each allowed 10 minutes to state their case for being state’s attorney, and the final 10 minutes was reserved for a question and answer period.

Bruscato opened the forum and spoke of the many facets of being a state’s attorney.

“Being a state’s attorney is about being an effective administrator.”

He spoke of his success in managing nearly 80 attorneys and staff members.

“When I began this job, our office prosecuted about 57 jury trials a year. Now we do more than 100.”

He also spoke of reducing the jail population by 10 percent in the last three months.

Weber made the death of a colleague the centerpiece of his argument. It’s been 3½ years since Attorney Gregory Clark was murdered, and his killer has yet to be charged.

“We all know who killed Greg, and here we are over 3½ years into this man’s term and no charge. What about the justice for Greg Clark’s family? This is why I talk and talk and talk about my trial experience to everyone who will listen.”

Clark, 60, was shot multiple times in the back on Feb. 6, 2008, as he cleared snow from his property outside his Oak Forest Drive home.

Asked by a member of the audience if there is sufficient evidence to prosecute the case, Bruscato said because the case is still active, “I find it inappropriate to comment on the case.”

Bruscato did note he is the first Winnebago County State’s Attorney since 1985 to prosecute a case. “That is a personnel decision that each state’s attorney must face in Winnebago County,” he said. “It’s a hard job and being an administrator as well certainly takes up enough time, but I thought it was important to do both roles.”

Weber stressed his trial experience in trying 123 felony jury trials, 43 of them first-degree murder cases.

He said: “You can call me stubborn, sure. Hardheaded? Certainly. Too aggressive? Maybe. But each and everyone of you know I will give my heart and soul to make sure that killer is brought to justice.”

Chris Green: 815-987-1241; cgreen@rrstar.com@chrisfgreen

Rockford police website to turn spotlight on unsolved murders

By Chris Green
Posted May 06, 2012 @ 06:25 PM

ROCKFORD — A new feature on the Rockford Police Department’s website, Unsolved Murders, is expected to debut this month.

One unsolved homicide between 2007 and 2011 will be featured on the site —rockfordil.gov/police — each month. Lt. Marc Welsh said the department is purposefully not labeling them as cold cases.

“We want to send the message to the families of the murder victims that the murder of their loved ones is never forgotten,” he said. “Putting this information out is our effort to obtain any new tips to help us solve them.”

Administrators are reviewing the content of the site, which is expected to go live in the coming days. The 2008 fatal shooting of prominent local attorney Gregory Clark is slated to be the first featured on the site.

Welsh said: “It’s a high-profile case, and there’s been no new information on it in the past year.”

Two arrested
Shortly before 2 p.m. Feb. 6, 2008, a passenger in a blue minivan sprang forward and opened fire on Clark, who was clearing snow from the sidewalk around his house at Sentinel Road and Oakforest Drive. The gunman got back into the van, which sped off.

Clark, 60, apparently never saw his killer. He was shot several times in the back.

His wife, Phyllis, found him on the sidewalk. He was taken to OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at 2:20 p.m.

Later that day, police arrested two people, housemates Richard E. Wanke, one of Clark’s clients, and Diane Chavez, with whom Wanke was living at the time.

Prosecutors publicly called both of them “people of interest” in the homicide investigation.

In the days after the shooting, police provided prosecutors eyewitness accounts placing Chavez and Wanke and the blue minivan they shared at the scene of the shooting. However, neither has been charged in connection with Clark’s death.

Obstructing justice
On Aug. 14, 2008, Wanke began serving a 14-year prison sentence for unrelated burglary charges. Clark was Wanke’s attorney of record when he was killed.

Winnebago County court records indicate Wanke wanted his burglary conviction reversed based on ineffective assistance of counsel, among other complaints.

Chavez was charged with obstructing justice for lying to police the day of Clark’s death. Police said Chavez told them that Wanke did not live with her and refused to let officers search the residence when they went there looking for Wanke.

Wanke, 50, is serving his sentence at the Jacksonville Correctional Center. His projected parole date is May 7, 2014.

Case solved
Barton Henbest, Clark’s law partner and son-in-law, believes the gunman responsible for Clark’s death is already behind bars, but not for the murder of Clark. Henbest was surprised to learn the case is slated to be featured on the police website as an unsolved murder.

“It’s a solved case,” he said. “It’s just an unprosecuted one.

“In my opinion, it needs to be prosecuted.”

Henbest said his desire for a prosecution is not just based on his 20-year friendship with Clark and the family’s need for closure.

“I know there are detectives in the Rockford Police Department who have put enough information in front of (the Winnebago County state’s attorney’s office), but they have made the decision not to go forward.”

State’s Attorney Joe Bruscato declined to comment other than to say: “It’s an ongoing investigation. I don’t want to compromise the investigation.”

Anyone with information about Clark’s death is asked to call Rockford police, 815-987-5824, or Crime Stoppers, 815-963-7867.

Reach staff writer Chris Green at cgreen@rrstar.com or 815-987-1241.

Diane Chavez wins acquittal!

Posted: October 13, 2011 by freerichardwanke in Uncategorized
Tags: ,

Our heart-felt thanks goes to Attorney Peter Buh, of Wheaton, IL., who worked his butt off to grasp the complexities of facts and the law of this case. He did a superb job defending Diane Chavez. If you need a caring, and knowledgeable lawyer who is a true “trial” attorney and goes the extra mile, we recommend him wholeheartedly! Email us at freerichardwanke.com and we will provide you with his contact information.

Rockford Register Star story of acquittal of Diane Chavez

Woman in Clark murder case acquitted of records charges

By Jeff Kolkey
Posted Oct 12, 2011 @ 04:34 PM

Last update Oct 12, 2011 @ 04:37

ROCKFORD — A Department of Human Services employee was acquitted today of charges she tampered with public records even though she brought home thousands of documents that included private information, Social Security numbers and medical bills of at least 10 public aid applicants.

Diane Chavez — who along with her tenant, Richard E. Wanke, was once considered a person of interest by detectives investigating the Feb. 6, 2008, murder of Gregory H. Clark — was found not guilty by Judge Joseph McGraw.

McGraw ruled that the Winnebago County prosecutors had failed to prove that removing the case files from the Winnebago County DHS offices was illegal.

Both Chavez, 53, and Wanke, a former client of Clark’s, were arrested on the day of Clark’s killing but never charged with his death.

Chavez testified she had in 2006 and 2007 become overwhelmed by her caseload because state case workers were being forced to pull double duty as clerks. She started bringing clerical work home with her and quickly created an insurmountable mountain of documents.

She never returned the documents, sought overtime pay or informed supervisors she was bringing the work home.

McGraw said Chavez did not bring more files home with her after a supervisor’s e-mail was distributed in 2007 saying that taking files home was prohibited. But prosecutors never showed there was sufficient notice that removing the case files would risk criminal prosecution, McGraw ruled.

The records were stored in 11 boxes stored in the house she shared with Wanke. They were discovered as detectives investigated the death of Clark in the winter of 2008.
Clark was shot while he was pushing a snowblower on the sidewalk around his home in the 1700 block of Oak Forest Drive. Police said a gunman jumped out of a van and shot Clark several times, returned to the van and sped off.

Chavez still faces obstruction of justice charges that she lied to police about whether Wanke lived with her when Wanke was wanted for questioning. After the shooting, Wanke was sentenced to 14 years in prison for unrelated burglary charges in Winnebago County. Clark was Wanke’s attorney of record when he was killed.

No one has been arrested for Clark’s murder.