Judge dismisses lawsuit that raised questions about indictment of Christopher Vaughn for murders of wife, their three children

U.S. District Judge Manish S. Shah did not rule on the merits of the lawsuit filed by Vaughn’s parents, but said they did not have the legal standing to file it.

SHARE Judge dismisses lawsuit that raised questions about indictment of Christopher Vaughn for murders of wife, their three children
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Christopher Vaughn

Will County sheriff’s office

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit that alleged improper manipulation of the grand jury that indicted Christopher Vaughn for the murders of his wife and their three children in 2007.

U.S. District Judge Manish S. Shah did not rule on the merits of the lawsuit filed by Vaughn’s parents, but said they did not have the legal standing to file it.

Vaughn was convicted in 2012 of the murders of his wife Kimberly, 34, and their children 12-year-old Abigayle, 11-year-old Cassandra, and 8-year-old Blake. Their bodies were found on June 14, 2007 in the family’s SUV while it was parked in a secluded area along a frontage road near Interstate 55 and Bluff Road.

Vaughn’s defense team argued at trial that Kimberly shot him and the kids and then killed herself. They pointed to FDA warnings that drugs Kimberly took — Topamax and Nortriptyline — could lead to suicide.

The trial lasted five weeks and featured more than 80 witnesses. A jury took less than an hour to convict him and he was sentenced to four life sentences.

In their suit, Pierre and Gail Vaughn raised questions about the proceedings that led up to Vaughn’s indictment and argued they have lost time and income because they have had to travel to downstate Pinckneyville see their son.

The lawsuit claimed that an Illinois State Police sergeant “knowingly falsely testified” that blood found on a seatbelt in the Vaughn family’s SUV belonged to Vaughn’s wife, Kimberly.

The suit alleged that a draft lab report dated July 3, 2007, identified Vaughn as the source of the blood found on Kimberly’s seatbelt. It also listed Christopher and Kimberly Vaughn as suspects, according to the lawsuit.

A grand jury was then convened on July 25, 2007. That’s when the lawsuit alleges the sergeant falsely testified the blood on the seatbelt belonged to Kimberly.

After the lawsuit was filed, however, attorney Keith Altman acknowledged the sergeant “did not explicitly say it was Kimberly’s blood.” Rather, he said, the sergeant “implied” it.

The grand jury returned an indictment against Vaughn on July 25, 2007. The next day, a second lab report was prepared listing only Vaughn as a suspect but altering no other information, the lawsuit said.

Altman could not be immediately reached for comment.

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