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Officer Pledged To Paint Brestan As 'Evil Monster' Prior To Arrest

Kyle Brestan sitting in court
David Proeber
The Pantagraph (Pool)
Kyle Brestan is accused of stabbing 27-year-old Shannon Hastings more than 100 times. The victim was found in a west Bloomington hotel room.

UPDATED 4:10 p.m. | Closing arguments will be delivered Tuesday in the murder trial of Kyle Brestan in the brutal stabbing death of Shannon Hastings.

Defense lawyer Stephanie Wong called three witnesses, including two women who testified they believed they saw the victim after May 16, 2017—the date authorities estimate Hastings died.

Wong has argued the state’s case against Brestan is circumstantial and based on several surveillance videos depicting the couple together hours before her death.

Four days after Hastings’ body was found in a Bloomington hotel room, Brestan denied any involvement in her death.

“I never fought with her,” Brestan told police in the recorded interview shown Monday to jurors considering murder charges against the 35-year-old defendant.

In his testimony as the state’s final witness, Bloomington police Sgt. Todd McClusky identified Brestan as the man depicted in a video and photos of a man seen riding a bike around 5:30 a.m. on May 16, 2017—shortly after Hastings was stabbed more than 100 times, according to police.

Dark red stains on the suspect’s pants appeared to be blood, said McClusky.

In the second of two police interviews conducted May 25, 2017, McClusky urged Brestan to give his side of the story.

Absent an explanation of what may have taken place before he left the victim, Brestan was on track to be arrested, the officer told Brestan.

“I’m going to paint you as an evil monster,” McClusky said in the interview.

Brestan did not provide police with the clothing he was wearing on his bike ride, the officer testified. Pants turned over to police were a much lighter color than those depicted in the images, and the shirt was never located, said McClusky.

A search of Brestan’s phone by police showed he was looking online for the city’s trash and recycling pickup schedule soon after he returned to his home on Davis Street. The state contends Brestan disposed of the blood-stained clothing.

On Friday, a forensic scientist with the state lab testified Brestan’s DNA could not be excluded from a bloody towel found in the hotel room. Tests on other evidence, including a folding knife police believe was the murder weapon, excluded Brestan’s DNA.

That Brestan’s DNA was found on the towel is not surprising, said Wong, given its location in a hotel room.

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Edith began her career as a reporter with The DeWitt County Observer, a weekly newspaper in Clinton. From 2007 to June 2019, Edith covered crime and legal issues for The Pantagraph, a daily newspaper in Bloomington, Illinois. She previously worked as a correspondent for The Pantagraph covering courts and local government issues in central Illinois.
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