Christopher Vaughn murder case: Attorney files lawsuit hoping for new trial
WILL COUNTY, Ill. (WMBD) — A Missouri couple is suing the State of Illinois, Will County, the County’s State’s Attorney and more.
“We made a filing to seek to correct the public record, which is widely inaccurate, in terms of DNA testing that was done involving the Christopher Vaughn case,” said attorney Keith Altman.
The 25-page lawsuit filed early Monday morning was shared with WMBD’s Matt Sheehan. The Complaint was filed by Keith Altman’s office, the attorney representing Pierre and Gail Vaughn. The Vaughns are the parents of Christopher Vaughn, who was convicted of killing his wife and three children on June 14, 2007.
Now, the prosecution is stating part of the DNA evidence, submitted before a grand jury, was fraudulent.
Keith Altman alleges the Illinois State Forensic Scientist “tampered with the laboratory reports.”
Specifically, this refers to the blood found in the family’s car on the seatbelt of Christopher’s deceased wife, Kimberly.
“One of the key pieces of evidence that was used was the fact that Kimberly Vaughn’s seatbelt was retracted, and when they pulled it up, they found blood on it. Consistent with the prosecution’s theory on what happened, they maintained the blood was Kimberly Vaughn’s blood. We have come to find out that before the grand jury was in panel and certainly before the detective testified before the grand jury, that the DNA testing showed the blood on it was Christopher Vaughn’s blood. Which is completely inconsistent with the prosecution’s accounting of events,” Altman said.
As part of the lawsuit, there’s an “Exhibit B” which is labeled the “Draft” DNA report. On this, the report lists both Christopher and his wife Kimberly as suspects. This was submitted on July 3, 2007.
The final draft, listed in the lawsuit as “Exhibit C” only lists Christopher as the suspect. This was submitted on July 26, 2007.
“We came to learn that not only did the DNA expert know this, but that information was communicated to the detective and to Mr. Glasgow and John Connor. They were all aware of the blood test being Christopher Vaughn’s blood. At the grand jury, when the testimony came out, the detective testified that it was her (Kimberly’s) blood when he fully knew that it was his (Christopher’s) blood,” Altman said.
Altman said he’s requesting the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois (Eastern Division) remove “Draft” from the 7/3/2007 lab report, and add Kimberly Vaughn back as a suspect on the 7/26/2007 report.
“We’re working in parallel to file a motion to see that Chris’ conviction be vacated because the underlying grand jury indictment is corruption. At that point, at the worst, get him a new grand jury and a new trial. At the best, that he’s released,” Altman said.
This case gained nationwide attention after the 2021 podcast series titled “Murder in Illinois.”
Altman said he expects the defendants to file a motion to dismiss the complaint.
“We think that if the indictment is undone or voided, that then voids the conviction. It would be great for Christopher to be released from prison at that point. He has served approximately 15 years for murders he did not commit. It would be great, but certainly he deserves a new grand jury, and if they choose to indict, then a new opportunity to present the evidence in a trial,” Altman said.
“Christopher was found guilty with less than 1 hour of deliberation. There were 700 exhibits that were shown in a 6-week trial. It is inconceivable that a jury could have reviewed that evidence at the level needed to convict Christopher in less than 1 hour.”
Keith Altman | Attorney representing the parents of Christopher Vaughn
Altman said he knew about the case as soon shortly after happened. The investigation began before the death penalty was abolished in Illinois. This changed Chris’ defense team entirely at the time of the trial.
“With what happened after the defense was taken away from him, when the death penalty was abolished, this case has been haunting me. I knew shortly after I reviewed the evidence, that he did not commit this murder. The evidence just does not add up that way,” Altman said.
Altman also represents Christopher Vaughn.
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