11:15, May 24 392 0 abajournal.com

2017-05-24 11:15:06
Man convicted of murdering his defense lawyer proclaims innocence at sentencing

A Rockford, Illinois, man made just one statement when he was sentenced on Tuesday to natural life in prison for the murder of his defense lawyer.

“I want to state I’m innocent of these charges,” said the defendant, 55-year-old Richard Wanke, who added that he was directing his lawyers to file an expedited appeal. The Rockford Register Star covered the sentencing.

Wanke was convicted in March of fatally shooting lawyer Gregory Clark in February 2008 while the lawyer was clearing snow from his driveway. Prosecutors had argued Wanke jumped from a van and fired the fatal shots because he wanted Clark, 60, off his case following his September 2007 conviction for stealing a laptop computer. Wanke had sought a new trial because of alleged ineffective assistance of counsel, but a judge denied his request.

Judge Rosemary Collins told Wanke on Tuesday that “the evidence was clear, even though you dispute it.”

Wanke’s lawyer had argued there was no physical evidence that tied his client to the shooting. A friend of Wanke’s, Diane Chavez, told WIFR-TV that Wanke’s lawyers failed to introduce evidence that would have proved his innocence, including possible other suspects.

“They exist, they are in the evidence,” she said. “They are very viable leads that if they were followed up then the evidence to show that should have been in the record.”