Marni Yang’s attorney asks court to reopen investigation into murder of ex-Bear Shaun Gayle’s pregnant girlfriend

John Keilman, Chicago Tribune
·3 min read

The attorney for Marni Yang, the woman convicted nine years ago of murdering the pregnant girlfriend of former Chicago Bear Shaun Gayle, has asked a judge to reopen the investigation, saying Gayle’s alibi on the morning of the murder doesn’t hold up.

Jed Stone filed a motion in Lake County Circuit Court on Monday pointing to the grand jury testimony of a detective who said Gayle had been at a North Chicago barbershop between 8:30 and 9 a.m. on Oct. 4, 2007, the day Rhoni Reuter was shot to death just before 8 a.m. in her Deerfield condominium.

In fact, Stone said, surveillance video of the parking lot shows Gayle entering at 10:32 a.m.

“The alibi (prosecutors) created for Shaun Gayle has fallen apart,” Stone said at a news conference Tuesday. “That and other evidence belies the alibi of Shaun Gayle. And so ... we filed a motion asking that the murder investigation of Rhoni Reuter be reopened. We believe due process requires that the state look again at who the murderer was in this case.”

Authorities viewed Gayle, who played safety for the Bears during their 1985 Super Bowl season, as a suspect early in the investigation but ruled him out within days. Yang, who was also romantically involved with Gayle, was convicted of Reuter’s murder after making a covertly recorded admission of guilt to a friend — an admission she now says was false, intended to draw police attention away from her son.

At the news conference, private investigator Steve LaPino said Gayle told police he had been sleeping the morning of Reuter’s murder until 9 or 9:15 a.m., but that his first documented activity was a text message he sent to Reuter at 8:50 a.m. After that, he made various phone calls until he showed up at the barbershop, where he was informed that Reuter had been killed, LaPino said.

Stone said the inconsistencies in Gayle’s accounts draw his credibility into question.

Gayle, who now provides NFL commentary for Sky Sports in England, could not be reached for comment. A spokesman for Lake County State’s Attorney Michael Nerheim, whose office has sought to dismiss Yang’s petition for a new trial, declined to comment, but in an earlier filing Nerheim discounted the attack on Gayle’s alibi, saying it was old news the court had examined and rejected.

“It is clear the defendant continues to rehash these salacious claims regarding Shaun Gayle for their sensationalism value in an effort to deflect from her own clear guilt,” he wrote.

In another motion filed Monday, Stone asked the judge to order prosecutors to hand over various evidence, including information that would allow Yang’s defense team to play wiretapped conversations they say would prove her innocence. Yang says she told her father in a recorded phone call that she planned to lie about her involvement in Reuter’s murder to get the heat off her son.

“We need to find that conversation,” Stone said. “We’ve obtained the wiretap tapes, but because of the complexity of the equipment used by the state in this wiretap, our experts cannot play those tapes. Disclosing a tape to the defense without the ability to play it is like not disclosing it at all.”

Yang’s next court date is set for Jan. 12.

jkeilman@chicagotribune.com

Twitter @JohnKeilman

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