Many court observers were surprised when the Illinois Supreme Court agreed to review the conviction of David Hendricks in the murders of his wife and three children. That’s because the state’s Fourth District Appellate Court had already unanimously upheld the the decision. Now behind bars for more than three years, Hendricks tried to help himself by sending the court what he called “a supplemental brief.” “Obviously, I am no scholar,” he wrote. “I am simply a man badly hurt by and disappointed in the system I had always implicitly trusted. I desperately hope that the system works this final time around. I am truly innocent.”
As readers of Reasonable Doubt know, it turned out that it was not a “final time around.”
Here are the oral arguments as they occurred before Illinois’s highest court in March of 1987. Some involved legal technicalities; most dealt with testimony prosecutors presented to jurors. It took that jury five and a half hours to reach a verdict. It took the Illinois Supreme Court 21 months to reach its decision.
The two attorneys who had represented Hendricks before the appeals court also argued his case before the supreme court. They were Mercer Turner, who had handled Hendricks’s business affairs, and Jon Waltz, a Northwestern University law professor. Scott Graham, an assistant Illinois attorney general, represented the state. The audio is a little shaky at the beginning but gets better.