As investigators learn more about the criminal and mental health history of murder suspect John L. Wilson Jr., community members who have been shaken by the fatal stabbing of a suburban Chicago teenager are trying to make sure her killer receives the harshest possible sentence.
Lyons Township High School freshman Kelli O'Laughlin, 14, was found by her mother late last month after being stabbed multiple times in her Indian Head Park, Ill. home. Police believe Wilson was burglarizing the home when Kelli walked in and he has been charged with first degree murder. Wilson also allegedly sent Kelli's family taunting text messages after the slaying.
The Chicago Tribune reports that Wilson, who has a long criminal history and was on parole when O'Laughlin was murdered, suggested he had psychological problems in an evaluation following a 2002 robbery, reporting that he heard voices "saying to kill myself -- stuff like that," and was "scared someone will poison my food," according to court records. Wilson has received psychiatric help since age 10 and has been diagnosed with mood and personality disorders and depression.
But the Tribune also reports that in an October 2003 report on Wilson's condition, the evaluator found inconsistencies: Wilson alternated between saying he was and was not taking medication, said in one evaluation that he was "doing crazy stuff to get out of the cell," and, when these discrepancies were pointed out to him, replied "Ok. What can I use then?"
No indications have yet been made as to whether Wilson's psychological history will factor into his plea.
Meanwhile, many community members have cried for prosecutors to seek a harsh sentence in the crime, and an online petition calling for the death penalty to be reinstated and applied to this case presently has 457 signatures.
Sponsored by Patty Brand Nalepa, who self-identifies as a citizen of Illinois and mother of three, "JUSTICE for KELLI - Restore Capital Punishment in Illinois" targets Gov. Pat Quinn, who signed legislation formally ending the death penalty in Illinois in early July.
The petition supports House Bill 1520 and 1519, sponsored by state Rep. Dennis Reboletti and Senate Bill 2277, sponsored by state Sen. Kirk Dillard, both of which seek to reinstate the death penalty.
"This is a case that would definitely qualify for seeking of the death penalty. It’s a felony murder," Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez said at a press conference announcing charges against Wilson. "It’s a murder that occurred during the commission of a burglary. So, yes, it is a case that qualified and it's a case in which I believe we would have sought it."
Alvarez spoke out against Quinn's decision to abolish the death penalty earlier this year.