Judge Denies Jason Van Dyke's Bid To Overturn Murder Conviction, Get New Trial; Sentencing Set For January
CHICAGO (CBS) -- A Cook County judge has denied former Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke's bid to have his murder and aggravated battery convictions overturned, or get a new trial in the death of Laquan McDonald.
Judge Vincent Gaughan's rulings Friday were hardly surprising. Such motions filed by the defense are standard procedure in most criminal cases after a conviction, and are rarely granted. Van Dyke now faces sentencing in January.
Van Dyke was convicted two months ago of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery -- one count for each time McDonald was shot.
After his conviction, his defense attorneys filed several motions claiming Gaughan made a number of errors before and during Van Dyke's trial in the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald; such as failing to sustain valid defense objections, allowing testimony without foundation, refusing to move the trial outside Cook County, and more.
In seeking a new trial for Van Dyke, Herbert argued Gaughan should have ruled on moving the trial out of Cook County before a jury was selected, claiming the defense picked jurors expecting the judge would ultimately grant their request for a change of venue.
Herbert also claimed he was essentially forced to accept jurors the defense believed were not impartial, because they knew potential jurors who would be interviewed later in jury selection would be even worse choices, and they wanted to save their preemptive challenges.
"We were forced to take a jury that certainly was not fair and impartial," he said.
Gaughan rejected that argument, noting the defense did not use all of its preemptive challenges before a full jury was sworn in.
Arguing a separate motion to reverse Van Dyke's conviction, Herbert earlier argued that the prosecution's repeated reference to Van Dyke firing 16 shots was a "distraction."
"If the first shot was justified, it can't be a murder. If the decision to shoot was justified it's not a crime," he said.
The defense also argued Gaughan should have allowed jury instructions suggested by the defense, and claimed the prosecution did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Van Dyke was not justified in shooting McDonald.
Gaughan took little time rejecting all of the defense's arguments, setting up a likely appeal later.
The judge scheduled Van Dyke's sentencing for Jan. 18, 2019. Van Dyke faces up to 20 years in prison for his conviction for second-degree murder, and 6 to 30 years in prison for each count of aggravated battery.
Van Dyke has been held in protective custody at the Rock Island County Jail since a few days after his conviction. He appeared in court unshaven, and appearing to have lost weight since his conviction. He was escorted into the courtroom by two armed sheriff's deputies wearing bulletproof vests.
According to the Chicago Police Department, Van Dyke is no longer an officer. State officials revoked his certification after he was convicted of a felony. However, he is still an unpaid city employee until the Chicago Police Board formally fires him.
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