BLOOMINGTON — Results from forensic tests on a controversial DNA profile created for examination in the Donald Whalen murder case produced no match to anyone in law enforcement databases who may have been at the downtown Bloomington bar when Whalen's father was killed.
Whalen’s legal team said Tuesday the results will not change its plans to ask for a new trial for their client, however.
Whalen is serving 60 years for the 1991 death of William Whalen. The victim, found slain in the bar he owned on West Front Street, suffered 39 blunt trauma wounds and 33 stab wounds.
Court-ordered tests were performed by the Illinois State Crime lab on May 12 using a DNA profile compiled by combining three DNA samples from knives found at the crime scene.
The Illinois State Police challenged the testing, arguing the state crime lab could lose its access to the federal database if scientists were forced to enter the unconventional sample into the state's database to search for a possible match. Recent court filings did not indicate any sanctions imposed against the state for its compliance with the court order.
The tests were ordered by then-Chief Judge Elizabeth Robb in 2014 and most recently on May 5 by Judge Scott Drazewski following three years of court proceedings. The court battle on the composite DNA sample lasted more than a year.
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The defense hoped the DNA testing would identify alternative suspects whose DNA already was on file.
Defense lawyer Elliot Slosar, an attorney with the Chicago-based Exoneration Project, said the recent results confirm Donald Whalen’s exclusion from the DNA found on the knives.
“In the coming weeks we will file a petition for a new trial based upon Mr. Whalen’s actual innocence, which at this juncture is undeniable in light of the exclusion of his DNA on the weapons used to murder his father.”
The DNA sample was compiled by defense expert Dr. Karl Reich, who has been highly critical of the state crime lab's work on post-conviction cases.
Tests performed in 2012 on other items of evidence showed a mixture of male DNA profiles. One was consistent with the victim and the other has yet to be identified.
Whalen's requests for DNA tests on 30 items dates back to 2005.
A June 29 hearing is scheduled to review the status of the case.
Follow Edith Brady-Lunny on Twitter: @pg_blunny