Will County, located just outside of Chicago, has paid $3,800 for an indigent defendant’s expert witness in a double murder case. According to news source, Shorewood Patch, Will County Judge Gerald Kinney agreed with attorneys representing Bethany McKee that the defendant qualified for assistance in paying for her expert witness. Mckee, age 19, and three of her friends are accused of luring two men into a residence and murdering them. Ms. Mckee’s attorneys, who are private attorneys hired by McKee, have argued that the defendant does not have sufficient funds to hire an expert in her defense.
Judge Kinney agreed despite the prosecution’s objections, and has authorized up to $5,000 be spent on expert witness testimony on behalf of Ms. McKee. The law on government assistance for indigent defendants varies across states – the only constant being the right to have a qualified attorney regardless of income level. As expert witness testimony, particularly in regards to DNA analysis, becomes more critical in assessing a defendant’s involvement in criminal activity, indigent defendants will likely argue that the government is responsible for paying for expert witnesses in order to give the best possible defense against criminal charges.