Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

John Wayne Gacy Jr.

Trial

John Wayne Gacy
John Wayne Gacy

On Wednesday, February 6, 1980, John Wayne Gacy's murder trial began in the Cook County Criminal Courts Building in Chicago, Illinois. Jury members, who consisted of five women and seven men, listened as prosecutor Bob Egan talked about Robert Piest's life and his gruesome death and how Gacy was responsible for his murder 32 other young men. Egan told them about the investigation into Gacy, the discovery of bodies beneath his house and how Gacy's actions were premeditated and rational. In Sullivan and Maiken's book, Killer Clown: The John Wayne Gacy Murders, it is said that Egan's statement," left a stunning impression on the jurors and the courtroom spectators, who were learning some of the details of Gacy's killing for the first time."

Egan's opening statement was followed by one of Gacy's defense lawyers, Robert Motta. He opposed Egan's statement by claiming Gacy's actions were indeed, irrational and impulsive, but asserting that he was insane and no longer in control of his conduct.

If had been found insane, Gacy would have become a ward of the state mental health system. Furthermore, there are no time limits on the incarceration of such a person and in many cases they are set free when they are deemed mentally stable enough to re-enter society. This is what Robert Motta believed was best for his client. Yet, an insanity plea is usually a very difficult one to prove. Although prosecutors were stung by Gacy's insanity plea, it was something they had expected and were well prepared for.

When the opening statements had concluded, the prosecution brought its first witness to the stand, Marko Butkovich, the father of Gacy's victim John Butkovich. He was the first witness of many that included the family and friends of the murdered victims. Some of the witnesses broke down in tears on the bench, while others sadly recounted their last goodbyes to their loved ones.

Following the friends and family of the victims came the testimony of those who worked for Gacy who survived sexual and usually violent encounters with their boss. Some of his ex-employees told of his mood swings and how he would trick them into being handcuffed. Others told of how he constantly made passes at them while at work. The testimony continued for the next several weeks, including that of friends and neighbors of Gacy, police officers involved in the investigation and arrest of Gacy, and psychologists who found Gacy sane during the killings. Before the state rested. it had called some sixty witnesses to the bench.

 

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