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Whalen's Bond Unchanged; Girlfriend Seeks Protective Order

Donald Whalen Jr.
Bloomington Police Department

Bond will not be reduced for Don Whalen on charges that he violated terms of his electronic monitoring nine times, pending a ruling on whether he will get a new trial in the 1991 murder of his father.

The state has accused Whalen of being outside the geographic bounds of what’s allowed under the terms of his release by traveling to locations in Peoria, Bloomington and Champaign. The alleged violations took place on Feb. 17 and Feb. 18, April 21 and April 25.

The addresses listed in court records include a pawn shop, Walmart, a bank and a convenience store in Bloomington. A home in Champaign and a pharmacy in Peoria also are cited in the charges.

At a video hearing conducted Friday between the courtroom and the McLean County jail where Whalen is being held, Assistant State’s Attorney Patrick Sheehan asked that bond of $20,035 remain in place.

Before the hearing, Judge Scott Drazewski told Public Defender Tiara Wilson that Whalen’s lawyers from The Exoneration Project who represent the defendant in his murder case would not be allowed to participate in the bond hearing because they had not filed paperwork confirming their representation in the new case.

The judge told Whalen the public defender’s office has been appointed in the new criminal matter. A May 29 preliminary hearing is scheduled on the felony charges.

In a statement to WGLT, Exoneration Project lawyer Tara Thompson said, “all Donald Whalen has ever wanted is his day in court. As he has waited for that day, this pandemic lockdown occurred. It has had devastating impacts on everyone in this country, including him. The state has charged Donald with escape, but these charges don’t allege he failed to appear in court or that he even left central Illinois. The accusations are that he visited places like McDonald’s, the pharmacy, a gas station and the bank.”

Order of Protection

In the three days preceding the new felony charges, Bloomington police were called to the home Whalen shared with his girlfriend on the city’s north side in response to disputes between the two, according to an emergency order of protection filed Thursday by the woman.

In her statement filed in court, the woman claims Whalen became abusive on April 27 when she told him her son was going to do mechanical work on her vehicle. Police were called by the woman’s son to keep the peace while she retrieved her son’s belongings from the house, said the statement.

The confrontation escalated when Whalen allegedly held a knife as he “made an off the wall remark stating something along the lines of 'this won’t be easy, don’t make me do this,'" the woman told a court advocate who typed her statement.

Officers returned April 28 when neighbors heard the couple arguing again about the truck repairs. Police came back April 30 after the woman refused to allow Whalen to speak to her son on the phone, according to the affidavit.

No charges related to the police calls have been filed.

The discord between Whalen and his girlfriend allegedly spanned several months. The statement includes claims of Whalen throwing the woman’s phone outside and locking her out of the house, his abuse of her cat and threats against her son.

“I have been asking him since February to move out of my home. I’m done living like this and want him out of my home and life,” the woman wrote in her statement.    

Whalen has been tethered to an ankle-monitoring device since his release in 2019 after Drazewski’s decision to grant Whalen a new trial. The ruling followed three days of hearings in which Whalen’s lawyers laid out information developed since his conviction in the death of his father, Bill Whalen.

In his ruling, Drazewski said fingerprint and DNA evidence presented during the hearings warrants a new trial. The evidence, he said, is great enough “to undermine confidence in the outcome of the (first) trial.”

In a March ruling, the Fourth District Court Appellate Court reversed Drazewski’s decision and sent the case back to McLean County for further proceedings. Lawyers for Whalen have asked the Illinois Supreme Court to review the appellate decision.

Drazewski declined to consider a motion by the state to revoke Whalen’s bond filed after the appellate court decision, maintaining he lacked jurisdiction until a mandate confirming the appellate ruling was issued.  

Whalen stayed with his mother in Bloomington when he was first released, but moved in with his girlfriend several months later. While out on bond, Whalen has been allowed to work, attend church, legal and medical appointments, and other errands approved by court services.

If convicted on the new Class 3 felony charges, Whalen faces an extended term of four to 10 years in prison, based on his prior criminal record.

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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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