Woman cites ‘corruption’ in seeking new trial in murder of ex-Bear Shaun Gayle’s pregnant girlfriend

Marni K. Yang is serving life in prison for the 2007 murder of Rhoni Reuter.

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Marni Yang

Marni K. Yang is seeking a new trial in the 2007 murder of ex-Chicago Bear Shaun Gayle’s pregnant girlfriend. | file photo

AP file photo

The woman now doing life in prison for gunning down the pregnant girlfriend of ex-Chicago Bear Shaun Gayle in 2007 deserves a new trial because the case against her was riddled with “corruption,” her attorney said Wednesday.

“Lake County, Illinois, has become the epicenter of wrongful convictions in the United States,” attorney Jed Stone told reporters. “Marni [Yang’s] case is a textbook example of that kind of wrongful conviction, prosecutorial misconduct, police misconduct, trial errors.”

Flanked by half a dozen private investigators and Yang’s grown children and father, Stone said the “long-in-the-making” petition for a new trial filed this week in Lake County reveals the “surface of the corruption in this case.”

Among other things, Stone said, Yang’s children were threatened and harassed into making incriminating statements about their mother; a new examination of unspent gun cartridges from the murder scene found DNA of an “unknown male,” but none belonging to Yang; and “proof” that the gun used in the killing had been stolen six months before — something known by investigators but withheld from Yang’s defense team.

Back in 2007, the slaying of Deerfield resident Rhoni Reuter and her unborn child drew international headlines. Investigators said Yang, taking extraordinary steps to cover her tracks, was driven by a jealous rage when she killed Reuter at the pregnant woman’s condominium. Lake County prosecutors said Yang had also been dating Gayle, something he denied — saying, instead, that they had been friends.

A spokesman for the Lake County state’s attorney’s office said Wednesday he could not comment about Yang’s petition. citing pending litigation. A spokesman for the Lake County Major Crimes Task force, which investigated the killing, referred questions to Deerfield police, where the crime happened.

Yang’s father, Larry Merar, told reporters Wednesday investigators focused on his daughter because the investigation had hit a dead end.

“Empty handed, the Lake County Major Crimes Task Force targeted and laid siege to Marni and my grandchildren for close to two years, without looking at any of the other viable witnesses that they had,” Merar said.

Yang, 51, is locked up at Logan Correctional Center in downstate Lincoln.

Stone wouldn’t say who he believes might be responsible for Reuter’s murder.

“At some point, I think it will be appropriate to focus on those other suspects, but that’s a prosecution job, not my job,” Stone said.

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