Since March 2, 2005, the murderer of two elderly sisters and their hairdresser in Belleville has eluded justice.
Now we learn that another two years may pass before the trial starts.
As frustrating as that may be, imagine how much worse it must be for the families to have this hanging over them. They suffered the losses of two family matriarchs, a trial of the wrong suspect in 2010 and were about to see the trial last week of suspect Samuel L. Johnson.
But prosecutors said Johnson scrawled a threat on his holding cell wall, where the jailhouse snitches expected to testify against him were likely to see it. "Rat snitch bitches" and "they are here to testify on my case today 6-4-18."
Associate Judge Julie Gomric ruled the graffiti was not relevant or an admission of guilt. She might have been worried about jurors knowing Johnson was in custody, and thus been biased against him.
The scrawling may not be an exact admission of guilt, but Johnson has been claiming there was no jailhouse confession. Trying to intimidate witnesses could be interpreted as his admission that the confessions did happen.
And as far as jurors not knowing Johnson is in custody, what dim juror is going to think a guy facing grisly, triple stabbing charges would be allowed to roam free?
It had to be a tough call to possibly delay this trial for years — time blurs memories and generally favors the defense. It had to be tough telling the victims' families about a delay.
But if ever there were a case where delay is worth it to ensure a conviction, this is it.