“I just want a trial when a jury of his peers hears all the evidence and makes a decision. Even if they find that he’s not guilty, I can accept that. What I cannot accept is just letting him walk out the door without a trial again.”
Cathie Altman’s request is reasonable. Her words should carry more weight than any judicial opinion.
Her baby boy was murdered just shy of 44 years ago. “Baby Joey” Abernathy was beaten to death Dec. 30, 1972. Her former boyfriend, Gary Warwick, was charged with the murder in April 1973.
But the case was mysteriously dismissed in September 1974. Time passed.
Altman wouldn’t let it go. In 2012 she asked St. Clair County sheriff’s investigators to reopen the case. They did, Warwick was again indicted, but St. Clair County Circuit Judge Robert Haida ruled too much time had passed and had curtailed Warwick’s right to a fair trial.
The appellate court decided Haida was wrong, and the Illinois Supreme Court refused to take up the question. Warwick may yet face trial.
Memories fade and witnesses die after 44 years, but that impacts both the defense and prosecution.
Warwick got one judge to say he might have trouble getting a fair trial, but so far has been unable to prove he can’t get a fair trial. He must next prove he is not guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Up or down, Altman and Baby Joey deserve that decision.