McLean Co. Prosecutors: DNA Links Brestan To Murder | WGLT

McLean Co. Prosecutors: DNA Links Brestan To Murder

Dec 10, 2019

UPDATED 4:30 p.m. | Jurors in the Kyle Brestan murder trial viewed graphic photos Tuesday of stabbing victim Shannon Hastings as she laid in a pool of blood in a Bloomington hotel room.

Hastings fought for her life as her attacker plunged a knife into her more than 100 times, prosecutor Brad Rigdon told the jury in opening statements Tuesday morning. 

“She fought for her life and took her last breath as this defendant stabbed her 105 times,” said Rigdon.

Shannon Hastings was found dead in a west Bloomington hotel in May 2017.
Credit Bloomington Police Department / Bloomington Police Department

Brestan, 35, of Bloomington is charged with killing the 27-year old victim in May 2017 in a room of the EconoLodge on the city’s west side. 

The victim likely died May 16, 2017 — five days before a hotel worker found her body, said Rigdon. The state will share evidence showing Hastings and Brestan in downtown Bloomington and locations near the hotel hours before her death, said Rigdon.

Hastings was a flawed person, the prosecutor acknowledged. She worked as a prostitute and was addicted to crack cocaine, he said.

Scientific evidence links Brestan to the crime scene, said Rigdon. The defendant’s DNA was located on a bloody towel police found in a dumpster outside the hotel, according to Rigdon.

The prosecutor told jurors they will hear about an error by police during the investigation related to DNA testing.

“Nothing is perfect,” Rigdon remarked, before disclosing that an evidence analyst unintentionally allowed his DNA to be transferred to a swab containing evidence from the murder weapon. 

Authorities collected video from public safety surveillance cameras showing the suspect riding his bike from West Market Street toward downtown around 5 a.m. on May 16, 2017.

Images on the video depict dark stains police describe as blood stains on Brestan’s pants, said Rigdon.

Defense lawyer Stephanie Wong told jurors they will hear “a classic illustration of a rush to judgment" by police. 

Hastings’ work on the streets “exposed her to a limitless pool of suspects,” among them “drug users, drug peddlers, Johns and pimps,” said Wong.

Wong took issue with several key elements of the state’s case. 

Police cannot prove the exact date of Hastings death, said Wong, and DNA test results on the knife and other evidence did not match Brestan. 

The state opened its case with emotional testimony from the victim’s mother, Cheryl Hastings. She struggled through sobs to answer questions and identify a photo of her daughter taken before her death. 

“That’s my beautiful daughter, “ Hastings said of the photo.

The mother testified she learned details of the darker side of her daughter’s life after her death.

Brestan looked at the screen in the courtroom where more than 50 crime scene photos were displayed. The victim was sprawled on the floor, her torso, neck and head covered in blood.

Bloomington crime scene detective Martin Krylowicz testified about minor injuries he detected when he photographed Brestan several days after Hastings was found. Small cuts and discoloration of an area on the defendant’s hands were noted.

In response to questions from Wong, the detective admitted the cut was so small he did not notice it until later when he fingerprinted the subject. The officer also said he could not determine when the injury occurred. 

The trial continues Wednesday with forensic pathologist Dr. Scott Denton on the witness list. 

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