Jurors in Karen McCarron murder case go home for the day

Kevin Sampier

Jurors in Karen McCarron’s murder trial deliberated for four hours Wednesday without reaching a verdict and will try to come to a decision when they return to court today.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys gave their closing statements to the jury of eight men and four women, each side making one last attempt to sway jurors’ opinions.

"(McCarron) took the stand herself, under oath, and told you what she did," said Kevin Johnson, chief assistant Tazewell County state’s attorney. "She showed you what she did."

McCarron confessed to several people and police that she suffocated her autistic 3-year-old daughter Katherine "Katie" McCarron with a plastic garbage bag and testified to that last week, using a garbage bag to show jurors how she did it.

Johnson recapped for the jury testimony from McCarron’s family, friends and former co-workers, who said she was coherent and showed no signs of mental illness before or after the May 13, 2006, slaying.

Both sides traded jabs about the two medical experts who testified about McCarron’s mental state. Psychiatrist Joseph Glenmullen was brought in by McCarron’s attorneys and told jurors she was psychotic during the killing, while prosecutors called psychiatrist Terry M. Killian, who said she was not.

Assistant Tazewell County State’s Attorney Kirk Schoenbein said the garbage bag McCarron used to kill the girl speaks louder than any testimony.

"Listen to it," he said. "It’s more honest than Glenmullen."

McCarron’s attorney, Marc Wolfe, said despite McCarron throwing the bag away after killing her daughter and putting the girl in bed as if she were asleep then calling 911, she is an honest person.

"The state would have you believe this is a dishonest woman," Wolfe said. "Other than May 13, 2006, there are no other instances of any untruths that she spoke."

Wolfe and co-attorney Steve Baker have entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity for McCarron, who faces two counts of first-degree murder, one count of obstruction of justice and one count of concealment of a homicidal death.

"Ultimately, I’m certain we will have justice in this case," Wolfe said, urging the jurors to find McCarron not guilty and accept her insanity plea. "There is no other choice available to you."

Jurors actually have four options to choose from on each of the charges: guilty, not guilty, guilty but mentally ill or not guilty by reason of insanity.

Schoenbein said justice will be served with guilty verdicts on all counts.

"(McCarron) wants out of responsibility and she’s asking you for it," Schoenbein told the jury. "Don’t give her what she wants. Give her what she deserves."

Jurors began deliberating just after 1 p.m. and later delivered a question to Judge Stephen Kouri, who tried to assemble the attorneys for an answer. But Wolfe, Baker and McCarron couldn’t be found.

During a phone call, Kouri reprimanded the two attorneys for leaving and again upon their return when he found out they were at the Par-A-Dice Casino in East Peoria.

Jurors waited about a half hour to get a response to the question. When Wolfe arrived, he said he and Baker were at the casino’s buffet and McCarron was at her hotel and not with them.

"In light of the fact that I don’t leave, the jurors don’t leave and court personnel don’t leave, you’re not leaving," Kouri told Wolfe. "That solves that problem."

The hours ticked by with idle courtroom chatter and brief moments of activity when the courtroom filled with McCarron’s family and curious spectators expecting to hear a verdict but finding just another question delivered from jurors.

Shortly after 5 p.m., jurors decided to break for the evening and continue deliberations at 9 a.m. Thursday.

Kevin Sampier can be reached at (309) 346-5300 or