BLOOMINGTON — The hearing on potential evidence that could lead to a new trial for Donald Whalen will begin on Jan. 28 as planned, a judge ruled Friday in a denial of the state's request for a postponement.
Whalen is serving 60 years for the 1991 stabbing death of his father, William Whalen, at what was then the Twenty Grand Tap, a downtown Bloomington bar the elder Whalen owned.
Assistant State's Attorney En-Chi Lin asked that the Jan. 28 hearing be delayed to allow the state more time to review transcripts from a previous hearing than the two weeks she now will have after the transcripts are prepared. The transcript runs about 180 pages, Lin told Judge Scott Drazewski.
Defense lawyer Elliot Slosar objected to the delay, saying if the prosecutor read just 13 pages a day, she would still have enough time to prepare for the two-day hearing. Slosar, an attorney with the University of Chicago's Innocence Project, also claims the state is well aware of the information contained in the transcript of the testimony of Dr. Karl Reich, a defense expert who compiled a controversial DNA sample for testing in the case.
Lin told the judge her office is in the midst of bringing a second prosecutor, David Spence, on board to handle the case after she begins maternity leave. In December, the judge refused the state's request to schedule the hearing in May, a request made in part because of that maternity leave.
In the petition for a new trial, the defense has challenged the opinion of a former forensic examiner with the state crime lab who testified in 1991 that Donald Whalen left the bloody palm print on a pool cue found near his father's body.
Results of DNA tests performed more than two decades after Whalen's conviction failed to link him to the knives believed to have been used to kill his father. An unidentified DNA profile that belongs to someone other than either of the Whalens was found on the knives.
The witness list for the upcoming hearing includes former state scientist John Dierker, former Bloomington Police Chief Randy McKinley, who worked on the Whalen investigation, and Donald Whalen's mother, Colleen Whalen.