Accused O'Laughlin Killer Requests to Represent Himself, Found Fit for Trial
John L. Wilson has been indicted on 31 felony charges and faces life in prison for the first-degree murder of 14-year-old Lyons Township freshman Kelli O'Laughlin.
The man charged with the murder of an Indian Head Park teen is requesting to represent himself at trial. The attorney who had been representing him, Naperville-based John Paul Carroll is facing *disciplinary action and a possible 90-day suspension for two unrelated cases.
John L. Wilson is charged with murdering 14-year-old Kelli O'Laughlin, a freshman at Lyons Township High School, after she came home from school and walked in on him burglarizing her house last October.
Carroll had agreed to continue to represent Wilson through any disciplinary proceedings, because the potential disciplinary action did not disqualify him from doing so. Judge John Joseph Hynes asked Wilson Monday if he wanted to continue to be represented by Carroll and co-counsel Michelle Gonzalez.
Wilson said, "No."
Hynes asked if Wilson wished to have a public defender represent him.
Wilson said, "No."
Wilson then requested to represent himself at trial.
"Do you understand that you are facing a minimum of 20 years in the penitentiary with no possibility of parole for the first degree murder charges alone?" Judge Hynes asked. "And the maximum sentence [for the first-degree murder charges] is natural life in prison?"
"Yes," Wilson answered.
Hynes said that several of the other charges in the 31-count felony indictment against Wilson carry a minimum sentence of six years in prison and a maximum of 30 years. Wilson faces a potential of 60 years in prison for the other charges in his indictment on top of what he faces for first-degree murder.
Hynes asked if Wilson understood that the nature of the charges was such that the terms could be served consecutively, meaning that the charges could be "stacked."
"Yes," Wilson answered.
Hynes said that he strongly recommended Wilson use the services of Carroll or accept a public defender, but that if Wilson persisted in his desire to represent himself, a hearing would need to be scheduled to determine whether Wilson was capable of representing himself.
"I think you need to think hard and fast. These are serious matters. I believe there is forensic evidence in this case. DNA also. Much of this is very difficult for a lay person to understand. I strongly urge you to accept the appointment of a public defender," Hynes said.
Hynes asked Wilson if he wanted some time to think the matter over. To which Wilson answered, "Yes."
Carroll said he was surprised when Wilson said in court that he wanted to represent himself. Carroll had not spoken with his client since the last hearing, because he did not want to speak with him before the results were back on whether Wilson was fit to stand trial.
"It's insane for a person not to have an attorney," Carroll told Patch after the hearing. "That's like asking me to rebuild my own car engine."
The last time the issue of disciplinary action against Carroll had been brought up in court, Wilson had said he wanted Carroll and Gonzalez to continue to represent him.
Wilson found mentally fit for trial
Wilson had reported having auditory hallucinations and was ordered to undergo mental health exams by Cook County Forensic Clinical Services to determine whether he was fit to stand trial.
Wilson was evaluated separately by Drs. Susan Messina and Peter Lourgos. Both evaluated Wilson based on evidence, including interviews, extensive documentation, investigative summaries from the major crimes task force, video surveillance of the defendent and his medication profile.
Assistant State's Attorney Andreana Turano read written testimony from both evaluators in court Monday.
In Messina's testimony, she said she found no display of psychotic behavior, psychomotor agitation, disturbance of mood or difficulty understanding questions.
"His clinical presentation does not match the self-purported claim of hallucinations," said Messina in her testimony. "Mr. Wilson currently is not suffering from mental illness that would compromise his understanding of court procedure or his assistance in his own defense."
In Lourgos' testimony, he said that Wilson did not appear to be suffering any side effects from any medication he is taking and appears to be exaggerating his symptoms and problems with memory.
Wilson has a long criminal history and has undergone psychiatric evaluations before. Lourgos took into consideration documented incidents in which Wilson said that he had "faked" symptoms to "get attention," and an incident last November, when he shoved feces under his door in order to protest the lack of attention.
"His actions are indicative of a blatant attempt to provide inaccurate information and are clearly manipulative," said Lourgos in his written testimony.
Lourgos said he found none of the guardedness, flat affect and appearance of internal stimuli that are consistent with those who have bona fide cognitive deficits.
Hynes continued the case for two weeks to give the Cook County Public Defender's Office time to assign someone to Wilson's case in the event Wilson should choose to accept a public defender.
Carroll said he would be willing to continue to defend Wilson pro bono, should Wilson decide that he would still like to be represented by himself and co-counsel Michelle Gonzalez.
Wilson is due in court again on May 30.
*A spokesperson from the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission was not available to answer questions about these cases in time for this article's publication. Patch will update this story as information becomes available.