Lawyers for Jason Van Dyke submit new motions seeking to toss guilty verdict

Lawyers for Jason Van Dyke this week tried yet again to overturn his guilty verdicts on charges of second-degree murder and aggravated battery.

In a motion filed Wednesday, Van Dyke’s lawyers offer a fresh slate of alleged missteps by trial Judge Vincent Gaughan, including Gaughan’s decision not to allow testimony about the turbulent days in the life of Laquan McDonald before he was shot by Van Dyke.

Among the witnesses Gaughan blocked from testifying was a DCFS worker investigating the fitness of an uncle with whom the 17-year-old had been living. Shortly before McDonald was shot the night of Oct. 20, 2014, the DCFS staffer told the teen if the uncle were found unfit, McDonald could be jailed, and McDonald responded: “I don’t care what happens to me.”

Citing autopsy reports showing the drug PCP in McDonald’s system and ticking off a list of alleged felony offenses the teen committed before and after he encountered police the night of the shooting, lawyer Dan Herbert at Van Dyke’s trial this fall had called McDonald “out of control.”

The motion also claims Gaughan mishandled his response to a question from jury deliberations; his answer to jurors might have led them to find that at least some of the 16 shots Van Dyke fired at Laquan McDonald were justified, the motion contends.

Thursday, Special Prosecutor Joseph McMahon filed a response to a previous defense motion seeking a new trial; that defense motion sought a new trial based on other purported errors by Gaughan, including the judge’s refusal to move the trial out of Cook County.

Van Dyke, who has been jailed in Rock County, Ill., since he was found guilty in October, returns to Gaughan’s courtroom for a hearing on Dec. 14. A date for his sentencing has not been set.

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