The killing of the pregnant girlfriend of former Chicago Bear Shaun Gayle was "cold, calculated and premeditated," prosecutors said today as they outlined their case against Marni Yang.
But defense attorneys countered in their opening remarks that investigators focused exclusively on Yang, without considering whether anyone else could have killed Rhoni Reuter and her unborn child.
While prosecutors portrayed Yang as a woman "obsessed" with Gayle and the women she saw as rivals for Gayle's affection, defense attorneys characterized her as a hard-working single mother of three who was unfairly targeted by overzealous investigators.
Yang, 43, of Chicago, has pleaded not guilty to charges of first-degree murder and intentional homicide of an unborn child. She’s accused of shooting Reuter multiple times in Reuter’s Deerfield condo on Oct. 4, 2007. Reuter was about seven months pregnant at the time.
Reuter was the girlfriend of Gayle, who played on the 1985 Bears team that won the Super Bowl. Prosecutors contend Yang was a jealous rival for Gayle’s affections who had done real estate work for the former football player.
Following opening statements, the first person to testify was Christa Amsden, who lived in the unit below Reuter at the Deerfield condo complex where Reuter was killed.
Amsden testified that she heard a “plop-plop” sound following by a “short scream” and then a “horrendous crash” on the morning of killing, Oct. 4, 2007, and called 9-1-1.
She said she also tried to reach Reuter by phone, knowing she lived upstairs and was pregnant, and became more concerned when Reuter didn’t answer.
Yang was interrogated by investigators over three days in January 2008 but wasn’t arrested until March 2009 after authorities said she made incriminating statements during conversations that were taped without her knowledge.
She confessed to the slaying to a friend who was wearing a wire while the two ate lunch at a Denny’s restaurant, officials said.
According to prosecutors, the divorced mother of three drove to Reuter’s condo in a rented car that bore stolen license plates. She wore sunglasses, baggy sweats and a wig to disguise her appearance and fired seven shots from a gun muffled with a silencer, officials have said.
Yang’s lawyers have sought to shift suspicion to Gayle by describing him as a womanizer who was upset with Reuter’s pregnancy.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times