Phone recording key issue in cop’s trial
BY JANET LUNDQUIST email@example.com December 5, 2013 6:48PM
Updated: January 7, 2014 6:40AM
A Will County judge will decide whether a recording of a Frankfort police officer threatening a woman whom he allegedly attacked a month later can be used as evidence at his trial.
The trial of Officer Donald Walsh on charges of aggravated domestic battery and residential burglary was on hold Thursday as attorneys argued whether a telephone recording of him allegedly “screaming” at his ex-girlfriend can be used against him.
The victim testified Thursday that she recorded a 40-minute conversation with Walsh on June 12, 2012.
Walsh, 30, of Monee, was arrested July 25, 2012, by Mokena police, who were called to the woman’s house about 3 a.m. by one of her children. Police said the child likely saw Walsh shouting at the woman, demanding to see her cellphone and choking, hitting and head-butting her.
Walsh, who has been on administrative leave without pay since his arrest, has denied attacking his ex-girlfriend.
On Thursday, the woman said she recorded the phone conversation on her computer without telling Walsh, then burned two copies of the audio file with her sister.
Mokena police interviewed the woman after the July incident, as did Frankfort police for an internal affairs investigation.
The woman said she didn’t think of the recording when interviewed by Mokena police but remembered it when she talked to a Frankfort officer and later gave that officer a copy of the recording. She testified that she assumed it would be shared with Mokena police.
The woman said Frankfort police later told her it would be illegal to use the recording because it was made without Walsh’s knowledge.
Walsh’s trial began Nov. 20. On Nov. 26, Special Prosecutor Dave Neal told Will County Circuit Court Judge Edward Burmila he had just obtained a copy of the recording and asked for a hearing to determine whether it was admissible.
The victim’s sister, Michelle Wawerski, testified Thursday that she gave Neal the copy, on which Walsh was “screaming” at her sister, because she wanted Neal to hear it and get a “more accurate depiction of who Donald Walsh really is.”
Mokena police officers testified they had no idea the recording existed until Neal contacted them about it.
Burmila said that, besides the issue of whether the recording can be admitted as evidence, he wants attorneys to address the issue of whether taping Walsh without his knowledge amounts to a felony. Neal said he believes the recording falls under an exemption to state law.
The hearing was continued to Friday morning.