Decision day: Van Dyke to decide judge or jury in his murder trial

09/14/2018, 07:09am

Attorney Daniel Herbert, far left, speaks before the judge as his client, Chicago police Officer Jason Van Dyke, far right, listens in during the hearing on the shooting death of Laquan McDonald, at the Leighton Criminal Court Building last month. | Antonio Perez/ Chicago Tribune pool photo

Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke is expected to decide this morning whether he will have a jury decide his fate or go it alone with Cook County Judge Vincent Gaughan — a key strategic choice early in the trial.

Van Dyke, charged with the murder of Laquan McDonald in 2014, and his legal team are set to appear before Gaughan at 9 a.m.

The jury is made up of eight women and four men, along with five alternates.

Also expect Van Dyke’s lawyers to press the judge for a decision on their request to move the case out of Cook County because he can’t get a fair trial here. His defense argues the huge amount of negative pretrial publicity, combined with protesters outside the courthouse and the fear of riots if he’s acquitted, mean there’s no way he could find impartial jurors.

Gaughan is expected to deny that request, noting that they have already chosen 12 fine jurors and five alternates from Cook County.

No matter what Van Dyke decides, opening statements are expected Monday.

Read the Sun-Times analysis of the factors that might go into Vaughan’s decision on whether to go judge or jury here.





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