Donald Whalen may have exceeded the legal and geographic bounds of the electronic monitoring device placed on his ankle after he was released from prison pending the outcome of his challenge to his murder conviction, according to testimony Friday from a court services official.
Judge William Yoder found probable cause to hold Whalen on nine counts of escape related to allegations he violated the rules of his electronic monitoring agreement with McLean County pre-trial services.
Whalen has been in the McLean County jail since his arrest in late April. The charges allege Whalen, who was released from state prison in March 2019 after a judge granted him a new trial on murder charges, improperly traveled from his residence multiple times between Feb. 17 and April 25.
Whalen served 28 of the 30 years he was required to complete of his 60-year term before he was freed on bond on charges tied to the 1991 stabbing death of his father, Bill Whalen. Judge Scott Drazewski ruled that new evidence uncovered by Whalen’s lawyers, including questions surrounding the veracity of fingerprint evidence, warranted a new trial.
The Fourth District Appellate Court later reversed Drazeweski’s ruling and sent the matter back to McLean County court. Whalen’s legal team with the Exoneration Project has asked the Illinois Supreme Court to consider Whalen’s appeal of the reversal.
Pre-trial services coordinator Sarge Rizvi testified Friday that Whalen was initially allowed to leave home for medical and legal appointments and church services. Travel was later expanded to allow Whalen to work, said Rizvi.
Whalen was required to notify court services and provide documentation for travel related to medical care, said Rizvi. The 53-year-old defendant was aware of the limitations of his trips away from home, said Rizvi.
“I emphasized (to Whalen) that you can’t deviate from the reasons you are allowed out,” Rizvi testified in response to questions from Assistant State’s Attorney Ashley Scarborough.
On Feb. 18 and 19, Whalen went to Monster Pawn and Walmart in Bloomington, according to charges.
On April 21, Whalen went to a Bloomington McDonald’s and to a LeRoy truck stop on the way to a residence in Champaign, said Rizvi. The following day, he allegedly spent most of the morning away from home, going first to Walmart and a bank before traveling to a local food bank and going to a Peoria gas station, according to information collected from the electronic device.
Rizvi acknowledged Whalen was allowed to stop for food and medical appointments during work hours. The movement outlined in charges did not occur on days Whalen was working as a truck driver, said Rizvi.
During questioning by defense lawyer Tara Thompson, Rizvi said he urged Whalen to find a stable job that would make monitoring his travel easier. Whalen was not asked for specifics of his trips to Walmart where customers pick up prescriptions, said Rizvi.
Yoder halted Thompson’s inquiry of Rizvi, saying he had obtained enough information to determine probable cause for the charges.
A June 12 hearing is scheduled to review the status of the case and hear arguments on a defense motion seeking extensive records from court services and the City of Bloomington. The state has objected to the defense subpoenas.
Whalen also faces charges filed in May after authorities monitoring his jail phone calls detected communications between Whalen and his girlfriend. His live-in girlfriend was granted an order of protection to bar contact and keep Whalen from her Bloomington home. In her petition for a protective order, she cited several disputes in which Whalen allegedly became belligerent and threatening.
Thompson told Yoder Friday that she has filed a motion to modify the no-contact order based upon the woman’s request to resume contact with Whalen.
Whalen attended Friday’s hearing through a closed-circuit connection with the jail.
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