Friday, September 26, 2008

Whose Side is He On? Lake County Coroner Testifies in Defense of Child Molester

In our own Lake County version of 'News of the Weird,' Democratic Lake County Coroner Richard Keller is coming under fire for acting as a paid expert witness for the DEFENSE in a recent child molestation case. Read the Daily Herald article here.

Keller seems quite unashamed of himself and says he'll do it again.

In a press release, the Lake County GOP had this to say:

Lake County GOP Criticizes Coroner for His Role
as Paid Defense Witness For A Child Molester

Lake County Coroner Richard Keller has used his office to defend a child molester.

Predatory sexual assault of a child is one of the most horrific crimes imaginable. In this case, the victim was a five-year-old child, and the defendant, Montel Branch, was convicted of this crime by a Lake County jury. Branch had a long criminal history. On Friday, September 19, 2008, Branch was sentenced to 19 years in prison.

Although Montel Branch thankfully was convicted, what was outrageous about his trial was that the paid expert witness for Branch was Lake County Coroner Richard Keller. The Coroner is the second highest law enforcement agent in the County. In fact, the only person that could arrest the sheriff is the coroner. It is astonishing that Richard Keller would use that position to be a paid defense expert witness for a convicted felon in a child molestation case.

Lake County Chairman Daniel Venturi condemned Keller’s actions and called for his resignation.

“The office of Coroner is a full-time obligation, and is not something that you can put on hold to take a side job in a position that compromises the integrity of the office,” said Venturi. “In addition, it has the potential to cause confusion to a jury when the second-highest law enforcement officer in the county appears as a paid witness for the defendant,” Venturi continued.

Almost as offensive is the fact that Richard Keller hired himself out at $100 per hour to work as a defense expert while being paid a six figure income as Lake County Coroner.

“Ironically, even though Richard Keller testified on behalf of the defense, the jury obviously disregarded his testimony and the individual was still convicted of the horrific crime,” said Venturi. “The citizens of Lake County deserve better; they deserve law enforcement officials who will honor their oath of office and advocate for the victims of crime, and not the predators. There is no excuse for Richard Keller's action and he should immediately resign as Lake County Coroner.”

Keller is being opposed in the November election by emergency room physician Dr. Michael Oster of Gurnee.

Sorry, Dr. Keller, but you can't double-dip and be a voluntary paid expert witness defending heinous criminals while at the same time collecting your county paycheck for being the second-highest law enforcement officer in the county. Whose side are you really on? The citizens of Lake County have a right to know.


Anonymous said...

Uh, excuse me Team America?

Keller was paid through the public defender's office to testify as an expert witness for the perpetrator of this horrible crime. At $100.00 an hour.

Translated, that means he took taxpayer money on the side to be the expert witness against law enforcement, all while continuing to collect his Coroner's paycheck as a law enforcement officer!


Louis G. Atsaves

Anonymous said...

Is this something that we can expect to see in the Tribune? Dr. Keller has some explaining to do. And yes, whose side is he on in this issue? And Republicans are taken to task for being sleezy?

Anonymous said...

Keller is a joke who hired a psychic to solve a case. No one in our Lake County Law Enforcement Community respects him.

Lone Wolf a.k.a. RPT said...

I met Oster at the BG Days parde and found him to be a real man of honor. He talked about the corruption that plagues the coronors office right now, specifically with this kind. Don't get me wrong, I am all for free interprise, but when you are a public official, their are ethics that must be adhered to.

Anonymous said...

This is an embarrasment and Keller should be on the front page of the paper for disputing a child's allegation of sexual abuse. Is he nuts?

Can you imagine if a Republican did this? They would have had to resign by now.