Illinois jury sentences Brian Dugan to death
Saturday, November 14, 2009
The jury has been empaneled for a six-week sentencing hearing to determine Dugan's eligibility for the death penalty. Closing arguments lasted for nearly six hours last Tuesday. The jury then deliberated for five hours until 10 pm, when the judge said that the jury had reached a verdict.
The jurors were then called into the courtroom, but in a surprising turn of events, the judge announced that the jury would like to continue deliberations. He sequestered them overnight, and deliberations continued Wednesday morning. The jury then announced that it had sentenced Dugan to death. He is now also suspected of committing four other murders.
Two men from Aurora, Alejandro Hernandez and Rolando Cruz, were first convicted of the crime on February 22, 1985. The jury deadlocked on Stephen Buckley, also from Aurora. On November 8 of that year, Dugan's lawyer revealed that his client, charged with the rape and murder of seven-year-old Melissa Ackerman of Somonauk, was also the lone murderer of Nicarico. Dugan was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murders of Melissa Ackerman and Donna Schnorr, a twenty-seven-year-old woman from Geneva.
Charges against Buckley were subsequently dropped in March 5, 1987. On July 14, 1994, the Illinois Supreme Court overturned Cruz's conviction and ordered a new trial. Hernandez's conviction was later overturned as well. A judge acquitted Cruz of the crime on November 3, 1995, and charges against Hernandez were later dismissed.
Refinements in DNA testing allowed law enforcement officials to narrow down the list of suspects. In 2002, DuPage County State's Attorney Joe Birkett stated that DNA certainly proved that Dugan was involved in the murder. He was charged in November 29, 2005, and pleaded guilty on July 18 of this year.
- Andrew Greiner. "Dugan Suspected in Up to Four Other Murders" — , November 13, 2009
- Ted Gregory. "Jury deliberates Dugan's fate" — , November 11, 2009
- "Timeline of Dugan case" — , November 11, 2009
- Dan Rozek, Stefano Esposito and Frank Main. "Brian Dugan sentenced to death for '83 murder of Nicarico girl" — , November 11, 2009