Winnebago County Prepares for Buck Trial

By: Erica Hurtt
By: Erica Hurtt

Winnebago County law enforcement has been preparing for the William Buck trial for a year now, and on Tuesday they'll be put to the test as opening arguments begin.

It's been years since Winnebago County has seen such a case of this magnitude. A Rockford man is on trial accused of killing a police officer and a jury of Lake County residents will decide his fate.

"We try to keep them as isolated as possible from any kind of exposure that might somehow effect or taint their impartiality," said Richard Krause, trial court administrator.

The county will provide 24-hour security, transportation and monitoring of the 12 jurors and two alternates for the high profile case.

"It's changed significantly what our role is and what our responsibility are," Krause said.

Securing the jury isn't the only concern. A zero tolerance security detail is in place, and about seven uniformed and plain clothed officers will be stationed in and around the courtroom.

"Is that overkill? I really don't know. We just want to make sure everybody is safe and secure," said Charles Jackson, courthouse security director.

Buck will not have to wear handcuffs during the trial, which raises some concerns. Decades ago a Rockford man, convicted of several murders escaped a courtroom and was shot in the building.

"We're not going to let another Raymond Lee Stewart happen here," Jackson said.

Judge Gerald Grubb has issued an order banning all photography and video cameras from the third floor of the courthouse.

The trial is expected to last four to six weeks.


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