Defense Attorney Herb Schultz filed a motion for a special prosecutor in the trial of his client, Casey Hunter of Rock Island. Schultz contended that the ongoing, un-resolved investigation into the county’s top prosecutor was cause for ”apparent conflict” in the case.
”We filed a motion for a special prosecutor. My contention was Jeff Terronez is under investigation by the State Police and the State Police are the head investigatory body that is doing my case”, Schultz said after Wednesday’s hearing in front of Judge Mike Meersman.
Judge Meersman heard Schutlz out, but quickly denied the motion.
”There’s no indication the same officers are involved in the case”, Meersman said. ” I don’t find any actual conflict having the States Attorney’s office prosecute.”
Hunter is charged with shooting at police. State Police are involved in the investigation because Hunter was shot in the foot and back, allegedly by Rock Island police.
The motion for the appointment of a special prosecutor stated that Terronez was ”the lead prosecutor in the case” until he assigned Assistant State’s Attorney John McCooley. In court, attorneys said that happened ”in late October, early November”.
On October 21st, WQAD broke the news of the state police investigation of Terronez involving allegations, among other things, buying alcohol for teenaged girls.
”All I know is I was asked to prosecute the case. That is not uncommon that I get assigned a case that I was not on from Day 1”, McCooley said after todays hearing. He said he was assigned the case ”later in the process’ by Jeff Terronez.
”We feel our office, specifically me, will prosecute the case as we are supposed to do”, said McCooley.
Schultz’s motion contended that:
”The state’s’ attorney is responsible for overseeing that the police do their job constitutionally and fairly. However, State’s Attorney Jeff Terronez is under investigation by the same law enforcement agency he is sworn to oversee. Additionally, there is no transparency in this relationship which inhibits Mr. Hunter from an appearance of being unfairly prosecuted”.
The Illinois State Police have declined to release documents surrounding the cause of the investigation into Terronez, who isn’t talking about the case. WQAD has appealed again to the Illinois Attorney General’s office for some or all of the reports. Terronez has neither been cleared or charged with any crime.
The motion for a special prosecutor was the first time Terronez’s troubles and the potential of any conflict of interest have been mentioned inside a courtroom.
”I don’t know if there’s a conflict, because I don’t know what’s going on with the case in regards to Mr. Terronez. So there’s a transparency (issue), and a problem with the integrity of the court system and I think a special prosecutor is appropriate in this case”, Schultz said.