BLOOMINGTON — Retired judge Ron Dozier returned to work in the Law and Justice Center in December — this time assuming his former role as McLean County state’s attorney.
Dozier was selected over several applicants to serve as state’s attorney until voters elect a new top prosecutor in November to replace Bill Yoder who was sworn in as associate judge on Dec. 1. The new associate judgeship was created to address population changes in the Eleventh Judicial Circuit.
The state’s attorney’s office filed 1,146 felony and 2,129 misdemeanor cases in 2011.
The April 29 death of a 3-year-old girl in Chenoa resulted in the county’s only murder case last year.
Destiny Cox died of blunt force trauma allegedly caused by her mother’s boyfriend, David Gharrett. He faces first degree murder charges in the child’s death.
The child’s mother Candis Ethridge was sentenced to probation in February on child endangerment charges related to the knowledge prosecutors claim she had of the potential harm Gharrett posed to her child. According to police, Gharrett was watching the child when the child suffered fatal trauma to her head and abdomen.
A 2010 murder case involving the death of Mark Olson of Normal was resolved with a sentence of probation for Frankie Trimby and 45 years in prison for David Boswell. Trimby was a passenger and Boswell the driver of a truck that struck Olson.
Still on the docket at the close of 2011 was the longest pending criminal case, a criminal sexual assault case filed in 2008 against Frank McSwain Jr. The former Project Oz counselor pleaded guilty in February of sexually abusing two former students he met in 2007 while working at Normal Community High School. He will be sentenced in April.
Several defendants continued last year to challenge their previous convictions in McLean County criminal cases.
Alan Beaman of Rockford has pending a petition that could force the state to declare his innocence in the 1993 murder of Illinois State University student Jennifer Lockmiller. Beaman served a dozen years in prison before the state Supreme Court reversed his conviction. The state later dropped charges. Beaman also has filed a clemency petition and a federal lawsuit against former police and prosecutors who handled his case.
Jamie Snow was turned down in January by the Fourth District Appellate Court in his bid for a new hearing on what he considers new evidence in his 2000 murder conviction. Snow’s lawyers have vowed to continue their fight to exonerate him for the 1991 death of gas station attendant Bill Little in Bloomington.
Donald Whalen of Bloomington is waiting in prison for the results of DNA testing on evidence in the 1991 death of his father William Whalen. Donald Whalen is serving 60 years on murder charges. He has maintained his innocence and contends that the test results could help identify his father’s killer by disclosing the source of blood found on knives at the former downtown bar where Whalen was killed.