It may surprise some that the man defending the accused murderer of a 14-year-old pro bono has a 14-year-old of his own—and that he plans to enter a plea of not guilty for John L. Wilson, Jr.
Wilson is the man . Police say Wilson murdered the Indian Head Park teen after she walked in on him burglarizing her home. The complaint by the Cook County state’s attorney alleges that Wilson then took O’Laughlin’s cell phone and began sending her mother .
Naperville-based attorney John Paul Carroll is a former Chicago homicide detective, who said he heard about the case while in the courthouse defending another client. He said someone from the sheriff’s office walked out of the courtroom where Wilson was making his initial appearance and said he did not believe Wilson was being treated fairly.
“[The officer] said, ‘It’s not right, all the attention they’re putting on this guy,’” said Carroll. “I thought to myself, it isn’t right that this guy is being treated differently than dozens of dozens of different clients that I have had … Some of [Wilson’s] family came up to us and asked what we charged, and I know they didn’t have the money to pay us, so I said we’ll do it for free.”
Carroll said that he knows some people may think badly of him and co-counsel Michelle Gonzalez for defending Wilson, but he does not care. He said he needs to do what he feels is right.
“Some may say, ‘How can Mr. Carroll plead him not guilty?’ Well, there is a presumption that they have the wrong guy,” said Carroll. “There is a presumption of innocence that is not overcome unless those 12 people [in the jury] find they are convinced that he did it beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Carroll said he believes Wilson already has been convicted by the media, and people should not assume that he did it, because of what they have read.
Death Threat Against Wilson
Carroll said the attention already has prompted a death threat against Wilson. Earlier this week, Carroll said his office received an email from someone who warned that he was going to be around the courthouse to make sure that Wilson "gets justice."
Carroll has sent a letter to the supervisor of the State’s Attorney's office in Bridgeview, the supervisor of the Sheriff's deputies assigned to security and the chief judge of the fifth municipal district circuit court of Cook County alerting them of the threat.
"I don’t get these [types of threats] often, [and] I do many, many murders," said Carroll. "This case has generated a lot of emotion with different people. My office is trying to give the State’s Attorney, the judges and Sheriff's office a heads up."
Wilson’s next hearing is scheduled for Dec. 21.