A Kane County jury took more than five hours Thursday to acquit an Aurora man charged with last year’s murder of 16-year-old Tasha L. Taylor.
Christopher Negre, 22, hugged his court-appointed attorney Kathleen Colton when the court clerk read the first “not guilty” verdict.
The jury’s foreman, who requested anonymity, said there was insufficient evidence to convict Negre of Taylor’s rape and murder. Her body was found July 5, 1991 near a tree-line at Simmons Park.
The foreman urged the Aurora police Department to continue investigating Taylor’s rape and murder.
“This was one concern of all of ours,” he said. “This should not be dropped; whoever committed this crime must be brought to justice.
Negre’s case was one of the first Kane County trials which used the relatively new technology of genetic testing. In genetic testing, a semen or blood sample is taken from the victim and compared to a sample taken from the suspect.
Genetic testing eliminated one suspect in Taylor’s murder, but could only indicated Negre could have been the rapist. Prosecutors argued the test-implicated Negre in the murder, while Colton argued the test was inconclusive.
In closing arguments Thursday, Colton tried to cast suspicion on another man. The five-man, seven-women jury agreed with her, according to the foreman.
“I think the jury felt there were several suspects who should have been tested,” he said.
Colton said she was pleased Negre now could get on with his life. The father of a 19-month-old baby has spent the last 10 months in jail awaiting trial.
“Christopher Negre never wavered in his innocence from the beginning,” she said. “I personally believe him and I’m gratified that the jury agreed.
Dave Clark, spokesman for State’s Attorney David Akeman, said their prosecutors did their best.
“We have a very professional staff and we work with the evidence that we have,” he said. “It isn’t a question of winning or losing, it’s a question of having a jury make a decision.”
Police Chief David Stover said Aurora investigators will review the trail proceedings and discuss the case with prosecutors after their review.
Assistant State’s Attorney Joe Rago prosecuted the case along with Assistant State’s Attorney Sal LoPiccolo.
They contended that Negre was dating Taylor while his pregnant girlfriend stayed in Saginaw, Mich., with her parents.
Taylor, of the 300 block of Old Indian Trail, was last seen about 10:30 p.m. on July 4, 1991 near a pay phone at Indian Trail and Penn Avenue. She had spent most of the July afternoon picnicking along the Fox River with her family.
Prosecutors contended that, on the night of the killing, Negre was angry with Taylor for an undisclosed reason and that he raped and killed her.
Colton tried to implicate another man in the murder, saying his car matched the description of the car seen by her two witnesses.
“The only way for anyone to know who really killed Tasha Taylor is to return a verdict of not guilty,” she told the jury. “Then maybe the Aurora police department will go back and investigate this case again.”