A man charged with murdering seven people at a restaurant nearly 15 years ago looked and sounded relaxed Wednesday as jury selection began for his trial.
“Good morning ladies and gentlemen,” Juan Luna said to the roughly 150 prospective jurors, who filled out questionnaires Wednesday.
It was expected to take at least two weeks to seat a jury for Luna’s trial. The 33-year-old is one of two men accused of the January 1993 killings at a Brown’s Chicken & Pasta restaurant during a robbery that prosecutors say netted less than $2,000.
All the victims were shot and some were stabbed. Their bodies were found in a walk-in freezer and a cooler at the suburban Palatine restaurant, part of a Chicago-area chain.
Investigators were under intense pressure to solve the case for years. Arrests were made but the trail of evidence repeatedly led elsewhere.
Luna and James Degorski were arrested in 2002, after a woman came forward with information about the shootings.
DNA links suspect to last meal
Authorities say a DNA sample from Luna links him to the last meal ordered the day of the slayings, and that Degorski’s revolver was used in the shootings.
Degorski’s trial date has not been set. Like Luna, he has pleaded not guilty to seven counts of first-degree murder.
Killed were restaurant owners Richard and Lynn Ehlenfeldt, and employees Michael Castro, 16, Guadalupe Maldonado, 46, Thomas Mennes, 32, Marcus Nellsen, 31, and Rico Solis, 17.