BLOOMINGTON -- A Sangamon County judge has been appointed to preside over the second murder trial of a Chicago man accused of murdering Jabar Thornton in a 1998 incident in Bloomington.
Judge Leo J. Zappa was named to hear the case against Eric Drew, 39, who faces a new trial on charges that he killed Thornton during a party outside a labor lodge on the city's southwest side.
Tara Thompson, Drew's lawyer, told McLean County Judge Paul Lawrence in May that judges inside the 11th Judicial Circuit, which includes McLean County, should not be involved in the case because former prosecutor -- now judge -- Robert Freitag may be called to testify.
Chief Felony Prosecutor Mark Messman said it is likely the judge will testify.
Drew's murder conviction was sent back to McLean County in December after the 4th District Appellate Court ruled that Drew may not have received a fair trial because the state failed to disclose evidence about a witness.
The defense was not told about consideration Antoine Drew, the defendant's cousin, received from the state, including help with his release on criminal cases in Cook and Champaign counties and money for car repairs, according to court records.
Antoine Drew, 30, is serving six years for aggravated battery of a pregnant person and is scheduled to be released later this year.
Eric Drew remains in the McLean County jail awaiting trial. Lawrence denied his release on bond.
A new hearing date has not been in the murder case. Zappa has requested Drew's court records from McLean County officials.