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Peoria man pleads guilty in Lisle woman’s killing in 1994

September 24, 2019 GMT

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. (AP) — An Illinois man who was charged with murder in the death of a 71-year-old suburban Chicago woman more than two decades ago has pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter.

Illa Venard’s son found her body in her condominium in Lisle in August 1994. Police said at the time that they believed she had been dead for several days. An autopsy was inconclusive on the cause of death, but police said they didn’t believe she died of natural causes.

Thomas Spear, of Peoria, was charged in Venard’s killing that October, but the murder charge was dropped as part of the plea agreement Monday, the Daily Herald reported.

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The plea comes after DuPage County Judge George Bakalis ruled last month that what Spear told police in a 2017 interview was inadmissible at trial because police continued questioning him after Spear asked for a lawyer.

Bakalis quoted a transcript in his written decision. When police asked Spear if he hurt Venard, he said: “Lawyer. I need a lawyer. I didn’t hurt anybody.”

“The statements made by Mr. Spear were key evidence in this case,” said Paul Darrah, public information officer for the DuPage County State’s Attorney’s office, adding that their suppression would have a negative impact on the case.

Police had accused Spear of attempting to cash a series of checks from Venard’s bank account and charged him with forgery and burglary.

Spear, 45, was jailed in DuPage County, and is scheduled for sentencing Sept. 30.

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Information from: Daily Herald, http://www.dailyherald.com