Madison - St. Clair Record

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Public defender says DNA testing performed in Edwardsville murder case

State Court

By Heather Isringhausen Gvillo | Aug 9, 2019


Madison County public defender John J. Rekowski said at a Judiciary Committee meeting that three days of DNA testing have been completed on evidence found in the master bedroom of an Edwardsville couple's home who were stabbed to death in March. 

Rekowski told committee members on Aug. 2 that the DNA testing was completed in the crime lab by a third party that had been previously used by the county to test DNA in another case. 

Rekowski expressed concern over the cost of investigating DNA evidence at the May committee meeting, explaining that the county spent $42,000 on tests and qualified experts during the last major DNA murder case that his office worked on.

“That’s the kind of money we’re talking about if we get into having a full litigation in a case with DNA,” he had said.

He added that DNA murder cases chew up tremendous amounts of time.

“I literally cannot tell you how much time myself, the other lawyer and the investigators spent coordinating the DNA” in the last major murder case with DNA evidence, he said. 

He also stressed in a motion to continue a hearing on the state’s motion to consume biological specimens that his office is funded by Madison County taxpayers.  

“As chief Public Defender the undersigned is responsible for operating the office in a fiscally responsible manner and to operate the office within budget.

“Both defendant’s DNA testing and observing State DNA testing is an extremely costly expense when defendant’s counsel has to retain qualified DNA experts,” Rekowski wrote.

Madison County Assistant State’s Attorney Jacob Harlow filed the motion to consume biological specimens on April 18, stating that partial rubber glove pieces were found on the bed and floor of the master bedroom of Michael and Lois Ladd’s residence. 

Harlow also wrote that “blood-like staining” was found on the master bedroom walls of the victims’ residence and the outside of the heel of defendant Zachary Capers’ left boot when police inspected his clothing at the Madison County jail. 

The motion states that the samples recovered from the evidence swabs are of such small amounts, “that proper DNA testing requires that the entire samples be consumed during the testing procedure.”

Capers, 23, is charged with first-degree murder for allegedly fatally stabbing the Ladds on March 17 at their home in Edwardsville. 

Lois Ladd, 68, was a chiropractor, and her husband, Michael Ladd, 79, was a contractor. Their bodies were discovered on March 18 after Lois Ladd failed to report to work. 

Investigators and prosecutors haven’t publicly offered a motive for the killings. 

Rekowksi previously said he intends to seek a psychiatric evaluation for Capers. 

In 2017, Collinsville Police responded to a “mental subject” call and took Capers to a Granite City hospital that has a psychiatric unit. During the past two years, police across Madison County have had dealings with Capers, some of which involved odd behavior, such as walking in traffic and yelling at cars.

Portions of a rubber glove or gloves could be significant pieces of evidence. They could possibly be used to argue that the crimes were premeditated, not the actions of someone with a diminished mental capacity.


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Madison County Circuit Court Madison County Judiciary Committee Madison County Public Defender

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