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Kane County Chronicle
Nov 27, 2001
By VICTORIA A.F. CAMRON, firstname.lastname@example.org
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Elgin spree killer gets death — (Chicago Tribune)
January 04, 2002|
By Mickey Ciokajlo, Tribune staff reporter
“I’ve been in that bar at least 50 times and I’ve always been a gentleman,” said Luther Casteel, 43, claiming the attack was not premeditated. “If I had planned to do this, I assure you there would have been no survivors.”
Kane County Circuit Judge Donald Hudson did not respond to Casteel’s comments, but in sentencing him to death by lethal injection, the judge said the former truck driver “harbored contempt for the sanctity of human life itself.”
“He simply did not care about the devastating consequences of his actions, but the court does care,” Hudson said. “This is a case that, by any standards, cries out for the imposition of the death penalty.”
Employees of JB’s Pub who attended the sentencing dismissed Casteel’s statement, saying he was a stranger at the bar who was thrown out earlier on the night of the shooting for causing trouble.
Although Gov. George Ryan placed a moratorium on executions, death-penalty cases are still moving through the legal process.
Ruling that two previous armed-robbery convictions qualified Casteel as a habitual offender under state law, Hudson also sentenced Casteel to life in prison for 15 counts of attempted murder.
Hudson sentenced Casteel to die for the April 14 shooting deaths of bartender Jeffrey Weides and patron Richard Bartlett.
Casteel had been kicked out of the bar for harassing women and quarreling with employees. He drove home, shaved his head and returned with four guns and more than 200 rounds of ammunition.
About 40 bar employees, shooting victims and their families, many wearing purple JB’s Pub shirts, attended the sentencing. Several could be heard sniffling as Kane County State’s Atty. Meg Gorecki recapped the shooting and reiterated the testimony of victims.
When Hudson asked him whether he would like to say anything on his own behalf, Casteel remained seated and spoke in a firm voice, reiterating his lack of fear of the death penalty.
He then blamed the bar for his drunkenness and said the bouncers provoked him.
“Something happened that night. I was drunk. They kept feeding me alcohol,” said Casteel, who tried to use his intoxication as a defense at trial. The bouncers “caused me to lose control and come back and start shooting in that bar.
“I had no reason. “I don’t even know these people other than I met them once or twice.”
Assistant State’s Atty. Robert Berlin said Casteel’s statements were not surprising.
“He’s never shown one bit of remorse,” Berlin said after the hearing. “He’s constantly blamed everyone else for everything that he has done in his life.”
Dale Koehring, a JB’s bartender and a close friend of Weides’, disregarded Casteel’s comments. Instead, Koehring said he was focusing on the victims and the lives that Casteel devastated.
“It’s closure, but does it make it better? It’ll never make it better,” Koehring said. “I lost my best friend.”