If the mother of Laquan McDonald wants to sit in at the upcoming trial of the Chicago police officer who shot and killed her son, she will need to respond to a defense subpoena and show up to court this week.
That’s according to Cook County Judge Vincent Gaughan, who on Tuesday said that if McDonald’s mother, Tina Hunter, is not in court Thursday, she will not be allowed to attend the September trial of suspended CPD Officer Jason Van Dyke.
“You tell her that she’s not gonna come to this trial unless she appears, alright?” Gaughan told defense attorneys during a brief hearing Tuesday. “I want you to get a hold of that person and tell them they will not be allowed to be in this trial. That’s fine.
“Just flat out tell her, she’s not coming in.”
Van Dyke’s defense team says they’ve attempted to subpoena Hunter multiple times at her home, but she has repeatedly refused service. Defense attorney Randy Rueckert told Gaughan they have sent out the same process server to Hunter’s home twice. On each occasion he was met by a man at the property who took the subpoena.
“It’s obvious she’s in the house, she doesn’t want to be served so she’s not gonna come out and see the service,” Rueckert said.
Special prosecutors likewise said they’ve been unable to reach Hunter after calling and leaving messages.
Van Dyke is charged with first-degree murder and several other charges in the shooting death of McDonald, who was shot 16 times as he walked along a Southwest Side road carrying a knife in October 2014.
If she shows up, Hunter would be called to testify at Thursday’s pretrial hearing as a defense Lynch witness – someone who can offer evidence of McDonald’s alleged prior criminal conduct. The name comes from People v. Lynch, a state Supreme Court case that held a defendant claiming self-defense may introduce evidence about the victim’s criminal past, even if the defendant wasn’t aware of that past at the time of the incident.
The defense previously brought forth at least a half-dozen Lynch witnesses during a sealed hearing earlier this year to testify about what the defense has referred to as McDonald’s “violent and aggressive nature.”
It is likely that if Hunter does appear Thursday, that hearing would also be sealed.
Hunter’s attorney did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday.
Hearings are currently scheduled each day this week to discuss, among other things, a handful of defense motions and a third defense animation. Gaughan previously ruled Van Dyke’s team may use two other animations showing the moments leading up to the shooting and the trajectory of some of the bullets fired.
Rueckert on Tuesday also filed a motion seeking to postpone the trial for one week after jury selection is concluded. The defense has sought to change the trial venue and could at any point opt for a bench trial, in which the judge decides the case – rather than a jury trial.
Gaughan has said he’ll rule on a possible venue change after jury selection, which could affect the defense’s decision to opt for a jury or bench trial.
Below, a timeline of events related to the shooting.