Metro-East News

Judge removes herself from case weeks before ‘Justice for Kane’ murder trial

Grieving mother talks about her 2-year-old son’s death

Lindsey Friess talks in September 2017 about the death of her son, Kane Friess-Wylie. Her then-boyfriend, Gyasi Campbell, was charged with first-degree murder eight months after the child's death.
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Lindsey Friess talks in September 2017 about the death of her son, Kane Friess-Wylie. Her then-boyfriend, Gyasi Campbell, was charged with first-degree murder eight months after the child's death.

The judge who reduced the bond for a man accused of killing a St. Clair County toddler in April 2017 has recused herself from the case, weeks before Gyasi Campbell was set for trial.

The order in which Judge Zina Cruse recused herself from the case was filed on Tuesday. No reason was provided, and a message for Cruse was not immediately returned. St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly also could not be reached for comment.

Campbell, 25, is facing first-degree murder charges in the death of 2-year-old Kane Friess-Wylie, the son of his girlfriend at the time. Lindsey Freiss, Kane’s mother, had lobbied against the charge of first-degree murder. Judge Stephen McGlynn oversaw the last status conference, but all appearances after Campbell’s arraignment were overseen by Cruse.

Cruse reduced Campbell’s $1 million bail to $150,000 in April, about a year after Kane’s death.

Lindsey’s mother and Kane’s grandmother, Lori Freiss, had been for the first-degree murder charge and against the bail reduction and isn’t sure what will happen next. She suspects the judge’s recusal will delay the case. Her supporters have put up signs in the metro-east urging “Justice for Kane.”

Cruse successfully retained her job on Nov. 6, when she was up for retention vote, which Freiss had fought against.

“I see a man who murdered my grandson,” Freiss said. “When the judge reduced his bond by 85 percent — who does that? I did think it was going to save (Campbell).

“I know we have an uphill battle; but today I feel like a winner.”

Mary Cooley: 618-239-2535; @MaryCooleyBND
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