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Christopher Vaughn family murder trial jury selection starts

Monday, August 13, 2012

It has been more than five years since a mother and her three children were found shot to death in the far southwest suburbs.

Jury selection began Monday in the trial of Christopher Vaughn. At the time of his family's murder, Vaughn claimed his wife shot him and their children before turning the gun on herself. Will County prosecutors do not believe that story.

Vaughn, 37, has been in jail for five years. When Vaughn was originally arrested in June 2007, the Will County State's Attorney's office said it would prosecute this as a death penalty case. Since then the death penalty was abolished in Illinois and Vaughn's original defense team quit.

On June 14, 2007, police found Vaughn with a passing motorist by the side of the road near Interstate 55 in Channahon.

Vaughn had sustained minor gunshot wounds to the wrist and leg. Police later found the bodies of Kimberly Vaughn, 12-year-old Abigayle, 11-year-old Cassandra and 8-year-old Blake inside the family SUV.

At the time, Vaughn told police his wife had shot them all and then killed herself Vaughn was arrested in a Missouri funeral home a week later as he was getting ready to lay them to rest.

Monday's prospective juror pool of 34 men and women included a retired reading instructor, a truck driver and an insurance attorney.

Jurors were asked to elaborate on answers they had already provided on a juror questionnaire, including existing mental health issues, whether they owned a handgun, had been victims of a crime, etc.

At one point, one of the assistant state's attorneys began asking detailed questions regarding prospective jurors' family lives and how they would react if their spouses and children were in danger. The defense filed a complaint. They argued that the state's attorney's office was attempting to "indoctrinate, persuade and counsel" jurors by asking them to pre-judge facts of the case.

Overall, more than 200 people will be interviewed this week before a final jury selection is made.

Opening statements are expected Monday, August 20. The case is expected to take four-to-six weeks.

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