JOLIET – Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow announced Tuesday that a former Blue Island man has pleaded guilty to a 1998 murder that was Frankfort’s only civilian homicide in the village’s 128-year history.
Anthony Brescia, 52, was sentenced to life in prison. He was indicted in June 2006 for the murder of 43-year-old Juliet Chinn, who was stabbed to death in her Frankfort townhouse on May 18, 1998.
The 2006 indictment marked a breakthrough in the unsolved case and sustained Glasgow’s decision in 1999 to dismiss murder charges against another man who was the initial focus of the investigation.
Investigators initially focused on a man who was Chinn’s longtime coworker and boyfriend. The man, Barry McCarthy, was charged with murder after an investigation that included a forensic expert’s opinion regarding blood-spatter patterns found on Mr. McCarthy’s pants. Mr. McCarthy found Chinn’s body and called 911 on the day of the murder.
Glasgow personally reviewed the case and came to doubt that expert’s opinion. The state’s attorney dismissed the murder charges against Mr. McCarthy after calling in another internationally renowned forensic scientist, who confirmed that his suspicions about the original blood-spatter analysis were on target.
“I was deeply troubled by the conclusions drawn in the original blood-spatter analysis,” Glasgow said. “I felt it was appropriate to bring in a top expert in this forensic field to review the evidence. After extensive consultation with this expert and local investigators, I was convinced that I needed to drop the charges in the interest of justice.”
Glasgow said the guilty plea and life sentence will ensure that this violent criminal will never again be free to terrorize the public.
The state’s attorney also said he hopes the plea will bring closure to the victim’s family as well as Mr. McCarthy, who has attended every one of Brescia’s court appearances since the indictment.
Mr. McCarthy said Tuesday afternoon that he was glad the case is now closed. He also said he was grateful the state’s attorney pursued an alternate theory that eventually cleared him as a suspect.
The expert Glasgow called to review the blood-spatter pattern in 1999 was Tom Bevel, a former Oklahoma City police investigator and an associate professor of forensic science. Bevel, a respected expert in blood-spatter analysis, also authored a text on the subject.
The first forensic expert issued an opinion stating the blood pattern found on McCarthy’s pants was the result of aspirated blood, which would have placed him at the scene when the victim died.
Bevel, however, determined the pattern could have been the result of some part of the victim’s body, possibly her hand, falling in a puddle of blood. This pattern could have occurred when McCarthy found Chinn dead in her townhouse and moved her to see if she was still alive.
Brescia forced his way through the front door of Chinn’s townhouse with plans to burglarize the home. After surprising Chinn, he fled the house. Chinn, however, followed him to the front door and called out his license plate number, which prompted Brescia to return.
The victim grabbed a kitchen knife, which Brescia wrestled from her and used to stab her in the neck and chest. He also punched her and strangled her.
Brescia currently is serving a 45-year sentence for a similar murder he committed in Palos Park four months after Chinn’s slaying. He confessed that he killed Chinn to Illinois Department of Corrections, who notified Frankfort police about his statements.
Frankfort Detectives Will Dowding and Kevin Keegan visited Brescia at Pontiac Correctional Center in December 2005 and took a videotaped statement from him.
Glasgow credited Frankfort police, including Chief Robert Piscia and Detectives Dowding and Keegan, for their thorough investigation of the new leads. Glasgow’s investigators, Detectives Pete Piazza and Daniel Procarione, also assisted in the investigation.
The state’s attorney also praised former prosecutor John McCabe and current Will County Assistant State’s Attorney Michael Fitzgerald for their assistance in analyzing the blood spatter evidence in 1999.