The attorney for accused quadruple-killer Christopher Vaughn rocketed through his witnesses so fast Thursday that he ran out before there was a chance for the jury to get lunch.
Judge Daniel Rozak said the midday meal was still going to be delivered and that jurors could stick around to eat or take it home with them.
The early end to Thursday's proceedings was prompted by defense attorney George Lenard's rapid questioning of the half-dozen witnesses slated to testify. And things only lasted as long as they did due to a relatively lengthy argument over whether the judge should call a mistrial over a question asked of the day's second witness, Illinois State Police Sgt. Gary Lawson.
After Lenard established that Vaughn went submitted to a Fathers' Day 2007 interrogation without putting any limitations on what questions detectives could ask him, Assistant State's Attorney Chris Regis asked Lawson if there were other interrogations in which Vaughn did set conditions.
Lenard objected and Judge Rozak cleared the jury from the room.
"He should not have asked that," Lenard said.
"He comes in and he says, and he brings up on cross-examination that there were restrictions on other interviews," Lenard said. "The jury is forced to run with their minds and assume anything."
Regis countered that Lenard's original question was "very misleading," and that in another interview Vaughn did set restrictions as to how he could be questioned. Vaughn ended up shutting down the interrogation when he was dissatisfied with his treatment, Regis claimed.
"First of all, he did not shut down the interview," Lenard shot back. He also said Regis was out of line when he asked anything at all about Vaughn's other police interviews.
"He is totally wrong when he says he has the right to talk about the other interviews to put the other interviews in context," Lenard said.
Rozak then denied Lenard's motion for a mistrial.
Besides Lawson, Lenard also called state police investigators Christopher Koerner and Chris Linares, state police Capt. Bridget Bertrand, the Channahon resident who found Vaughn limping away from his dead family, and Vaughn's sister-in-law, Rachel Vaughn.
Rachel Vaughn, who is married to Christopher Vaughn's brother, Adam, testified about a telephone conversation she had with Christopher Vaughn's wife, Kimberly Vaughn.
The May 30, 2007, telephone talk took place just 15 days before Kimberly Vaughn, 34, and her three children—Blake, 8, Cassandra, 11, and Abigayle, 12—were shot to death in the family's Ford Expedition.
Christopher Vaughn, 37, was also shot, suffering minor bullet wounds to his thigh and wrist. Christopher Vaughn told detectives his wife killed everyone and would have killed him too if he didn't escape. But prosecutors charged him with the four murders and say he shot himself to bolster his alibi.
Rachel Vaughn said Kimberly Vaughn confided in her about breaking into a panic during a vacation to Missouri when she could not get Internet service and needed to email a college assignment.
"I think her words were, she panicked and made a big scene and Chris had to drive her to Springfield to get service," said Rachel Vaughn, who lives in Colorado. "She was embarrassed by her reaction, that she knew she overreacted, that she was overreacting to small provocations and she was working on it with her doctor."
Rachel Vaughn said Kimberly Vaughn suspected her blood pressure and migraine headache medications might be the cause of her anxiety problems. She was trying to lose weight in hopes of lowering her blood pressure, Rachel Vaughn said, and was consulting with a neurologist about an alternative medication for her migraines.
Rachel Vaughn said that was the only telephone conversation she ever had with Kimberly Vaughn.
Lenard said he plans to call three doctors to testify Friday, along with sergeants from the state police and the Channahon Police Department.