The jury has begun deliberating in the capital murder trial of Ryland Shane Absalon, accused in the 1984 stabbing death of 18-year-old Ginger Hayden.
Prosecutors Lisa Callaghan and Jim Hudson urged jurors to convict Absalon of capital murder, saying the DNA evidence and his detailed confessions during drug treatment link him inextricably to the crime.
"Do not buy the idea that at 17 years old you cannot be experienced in evil," Callaghan told jurors during closing arguments. "We've brought you evidence beyond any doubt ... Bring her killer to justice after 28 years."
Defense attorney Gary Udashen, however, told jurors an unknown serial killer believed to have been targeting young women in the area in 1984 was likely Hayden's killer. He points to unidentified male DNA on blood-soaked socks found in the bathroom and to spots of semen from an unidentified male found on a quilt on Hayden's bed.
Udashen told jurors that Absalon told participants during the drug treatment program that he had killed a girl because he was under extreme pressure and couldn't leave the program if he didn't.
"He said it," Udashen said. "It wasn't true but it accomplished what he wanted to accomplish - to move out (of the program's first phase).
"The evidence shows that whoever killed Ginger Hayden is still out there."
The jury heard four days of testimony before state District Judge Everett Young before beginning deliberations.
UPDATE: 11:45 a.m.
Closing arguments are set to start at 1 p.m. in the capital murder trial of Ryland Shane Absalon, accused in the 1984 stabbing death of 18-year-old Ginger Hayden.
The defense rested its case about 11:15 a.m. Friday, and the prosecution presented no rebuttal witnesses.
The jury in state District Judge Everett Young's case is expected to begin deliberating this afternoon. If convicted of capital murder, Absalon would receive a life sentence. He is not eligible for the death penalty because he was under 18 at the time of the killing but he would be eligible for parole, based on the laws in place in 1984.
Accused killer Ryland Shane Absalon seemed "obsessed" with a young woman he confessed to stabbing multiple times, a former participant in Absalon's therapy program testified Thursday.
Chuck Donaldson, who was enrolled in the controversial Straight Inc. program at the same time as Absalon in 1986-1987, testified that Absalon stood up in group therapy and confessed to killing a woman.
"It was someone he knew," Donaldson said in response to questions from prosecutor Lisa Callaghan. "There was some kind of jealousy or romantic thing going on that precipitated it."
But Donaldson also testified under questioning from defense attorney Gary Udashen that the staff seemed to know ahead of time what Absalon planned to say, and that the program pressured young participants to say what the staff wanted to hear if they were ever to get out.
Another participant, Teresa Patterson, said she finally lied to the staff so she could get out.
"It didn't matter what I said unless it was what they wanted to hear," she said.
Absalon, now 45, is standing trial on capital murder in the 1984 slaying of 18-year-old Ginger Hayden, a former schoolmate of his at Arlington Heights High School who lived in the apartment downstairs with her mother.
DNA has linked Absalon to the crime scene and several Straight participants have told jurors about the confessions.
But Udashen has argued that Absalon falsely confessed to the murder to get out of the program.
Testimony is expected to continue before state District Judge Everett Young.