The parents of an Oswego man convicted of murdering his wife and children have filed suit claiming that investigators misled the grand jury in the case.
Pierre and Gail Vaughn filed the lawsuit in federal court in Chicago, claiming that the misrepresentation violated their son Christopher Vaughn’s constitutional right to a fair legal process.
Vaughn was convicted and sentenced to life in prison for the murders of his wife, Kimberly, and children in 2007. Abigayle, 12; Cassandra, 11; and Blake, 8, were shot at close range while buckled into the family’s SUV off Interstate 55 near Channahon.
Kimberly was shot under the chin, while Christopher Vaughn walked away with two superficial bullet wounds, and told police he didn’t remember what happened. A strip club dancer testified at trial that Vaughn visited her at the club several times in the weeks before the murder and said he was going to leave his wife, and that she “wasn’t going to see it coming.”
Jurors took less than an hour to reach a verdict, saying they had no doubts about Vaughn’s guilt. He received four life sentences from a Will County judge.
The defense theory was that Kimberly Vaughn murdered her children, then killed herself after shooting at her husband.
During the grand jury hearing that led to Vaughn being charged, Illinois State Police Sgt. Gary Lawson testified that there was blood on Kimberly’s seat belt, but didn’t say whose it was. Defense attorney Keith Altman argued that implied it was Kimberly’s blood. But DNA analysis showed it was Christopher’s blood, which Altman argued showed Kimberly had unbuckled the belt before committing the shootings.
The state’s DNA lab report was changed from a “draft” to a final report the day after the indictment, with the only change being that Kimberly Vaughn was eliminated as a suspect, suggesting the report was being unfairly manipulated, Altman said.
“His indictment was secured by deception,” Altman said.
Kimberly was on the prescription drug Topomax, which can have suicidal thoughts as a side effect. Altman said he would file requests in Vaughn’s criminal case to overturn the verdict and get a new trial.
Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow’s office said he could not comment on the suit, but shared this statement: “In the successful prosecution of Christopher Vaughn, we called 90 witnesses to the stand … and the jury returned a guilty verdict in 60 minutes.”