Madison - St. Clair Record

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Defense attorney Rekowski mulling whether to have Gibbons' office recused in Gori murder case

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By Heather Isringhausen Gvillo | Jan 24, 2020


Roughly two weeks after Madison County Public Defender John Rekowski’s office was appointed to represent Timothy Michael Banowetz in the murder of asbestos attorney Randy Gori, he said his office has not yet received any evidence.

He added that he will receive the case documents after Banowetz is arraigned on Jan. 24, which was continued from last week.

“I’ve spoken with my client and other than that, I’ve got nothing to say about it,” Rekowski said.

The public defender’s office was appointed to represent Banowetz on Jan. 8 after his first court appearance.

Madison County State’s Attorney’s office is prosecuting the case, and doesn’t plan to recuse despite a previous stated conflict of interest involving a case where Gori was charged with driving under the influence.

Rekowski said his office is looking at the issue of recusal, but said “a final issue has not been made” on a response.

In a letter sent to U.S. Attorney Steven Weinhoeft on Jan. 13, Madison County State’s Attorney Tom Gibbons also recently requested federal review of the case in order to seek the federal death penalty.

“I am seeking the review of the U.S. Attorney’s Office to bring the most severe cases justice,” Gibbons stated. “When violent offenders come from out-of-state to commit crimes in our county, the highest sentence they will receive is life in prison. By requesting the resources of the federal government, it is my purpose to seek the ultimate justice for these victims and their families. I want to ensure the safety of the Citizens of Madison County from the criminals traveling to our communities.”

Rekowski said he is disappointed that the death penalty has been raised as a possibility in this case.

“I’m disappointed both in terms of the decision and the fact that the people of the state of Illinois have spoken on the issue,” he said.  

The State of Illinois does not allow the death penalty since it was prohibited in 2011, but Gibbons stated that the sentence is available under federal law for those found guilty of first degree murder as a federal crime.

Rekowski also said that the case has presented some bias from county officials who knew Gori, but nothing to warrant disqualification.

He added that it is still too soon to consider the issue of venue. He said it is not unusual to consider if the venue is appropriate right before trial, explaining that he has seen requests for a new venue during trial.

He said that on the eve of trial, he will question, “When we pick a jury, can we get a fair one?”

Rekowski said that while the case is still a fresh topic, “memories fade” and people could forget about the case.

Banowetz, 28, of Wentzville, is being charged with three alternative counts of first degree murder, three counts of armed robbery, and three counts of aggravated unlawful restraint. He is also being charged with an offense related to a motor vehicle.

He is being held at the Madison County jail, and bond has not been set.

Gori was found dead in his rural Edwardsville home Saturday night, having been stabbed and cut. Banowetz is accused of ordering Gori and two minors to the ground and binding their hands. During the event, the suspect allegedly took cell phones from the minors and money from Gori.

Banowetz had been in the home for an “extended” period of time and was not injured, said David Vucich, who is a captain with the Madison County Sheriff’s Department and commander of the Major Case Squad activated in this case.

Vucich added that Banowetz was found by Major Case Squad officers in a wooded area about 1,200 feet from the home.

The 2020 Rolls Royce SUV Cullinan that Banowetz allegedly stole after the crime was found on an unpaved roadway off Zika Lane.

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Madison County Circuit CourtMadison County State's AttorneyMadison County Public Defender