The family of a Deerfield woman, who was the girlfriend of a former Chicago Bears player and was shot to death in 2007, says they are outraged and saddened as convicted killer Marni Yang is expected to seek a new trial.
Marni K. Yang, 53, is serving two life sentences for the murders of Rhoni Reuter, 42, and Reuter’s unborn baby girl Skylar, which occurred on October 4, 2007.
Reuter was the girlfriend of former Chicago Bears football player Shaun Gayle, who was on the ’85 Bears team, and she was carrying their baby.
Yang, who confessed about the murder to a friend, was also dating Gayle at the time of the murder.
Reuter’s brother, Thad Reuter, said that his family cried tears of relief after the jury convicted Yang just three hours after deliberating in 2011. Yang appealed the decision but her appeal was struck down.
“For the first time since Rhoni and Skylar’s death, we could breathe,” Thad said.
Thad sent a letter this week to several news outlets after Yang’s defense team requested the case be reopened.
“To us, she dictated her own future when she confessed and now, almost ten years later she wants another chance?” he said.
“No. No. No. It isn’t fair. Not to my sister and her baby. Not to my mom and my late dad. Not to any of us who loved Rhoni,” Thad said in the letter.
He said that another hearing “means tearing at my mom’s soul once more. Enough is enough.”
The Reuter family said they are very frustrated with the lack of outreach from newly-elected Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart. “Our biggest frustration has been the lack of communication from his office.”
The family said that Rinehart’s office had not been keeping them in the loop on the case until Tuesday after the family spoke out in criticism of Rinehart.
“One of his assistants called. He apologized for being out of touch and brought us up to speed on the case, which is a good thing,” Thad said.
The family also said they are worried that Rinehart won’t defend Yang’s conviction unlike previous state attorneys in Lake County did.
Rinehart said in a statement to Lake and McHenry County Scanner that his office has kept Thad updated on all developments in the case.
“We proactively called and spoke to Thad after the January and March status dates even though those dates did not involve any type of hearing. The family has worked with the same victim witness coordinator for the last two years,” Rinehart said.
“Our sympathies, condolences, and loyalties remain with Rhoni, her family, and her friends. I leave it to the defense attorneys to characterize their own expectations about their own motions. We will respond in court through our attorneys and with our pleadings. Our focus will be to get justice for Rhoni,” he added.
Thad said that he thinks Rinehart should be speaking out publicly about the verdict. “So far, the States Attorney’s office has said little publicly about a potential trial. We think they need to speak up and defend this righteous verdict which has already been upheld on appeal.”
Court records show Yang’s case is active and a post-conviction petition status hearing is scheduled for May 18.
Yang’s attorney, Jed Stone, told the Daily Herald that DNA found at the scene and other evidence suggests someone else could have been the killer. He also raised questions about the confession recording.