The Chicago woman found guilty of the 2007 vicious murder of a pregnant romantic competitor asserts that fresh evidence has surfaced, establishing her innocence and pointing to another person as the perpetrator.
Marni Yang, presently 56, was entangled in a love triangle with former Bears star Shaun Gayle when his girlfriend Rhoni Reuter and their unborn child were fatally shot in a Deerfield, Illinois, apartment.
Yang was apprehended by the police over a year after the crime, following an extensive investigation that revealed physical evidence and a recorded confession.
Yang and her attorney, Jed Stone, asserted in court on Monday that fresh evidence suggests a different suspect. Yang was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder by jurors in 2011, who reached their decision after only three hours of deliberation, as reported by FOX 32 Chicago.
Despite years of appeals, a self-incriminating admission from Yang herself played a crucial role in securing her conviction and imprisonment.
“I had a hoodie on, OK? I had dark makeup on my face and I had gloves on, OK? When … she opened up the door, that’s when I … brought out the gun,” she told a friend, who was wearing a wiretap. “And when she saw it, she started screaming, and I just let her have it.”
In a jailhouse interview with ABC 7 Chicago last year, Yang asserted that the confession was fake. She contended that she was aware her friend was wearing a wire but still fabricated a false confession.
“I believed once the case got into the hands of the legal system it would be clear I did not commit this crime,” she said.
In a previous appeal, Yang’s defense contended that the recorded admissions were improperly admitted as evidence. Nevertheless, Yang had made multiple admissions. Prosecutors claimed she had devised a code phrase to signal completion of the murder to a friend: “Do you want to go to dinner?”
Gayle, a long-time Bears defensive back and a member of the 1986 Super Bowl-winning team under head coach Mike Ditka, crossed paths with Yang at a 2005 Chicago Bears convention, as outlined in court documents. What initially began as a business relationship swiftly evolved into a romantic one.
Gayle has not immediately responded to messages seeking comment.
Yang’s friends testified that they perceived her relationship with Gayle as “unhealthy,” especially considering Gayle had been dating Rhoni Reuter for 17 years at the time of her murder.
According to court records, Yang informed co-workers that she had gained access to the former NFL player’s email account. She frequently complained about messages he received from other women. On one occasion, Yang discovered an email receipt for a trip to Europe involving Gayle and Reuter and subsequently canceled the reservation.
Upon discovering emails from another romantic interest, Yang assumed the identity of that woman, mimicking her accent, and proceeded to “sent e-mails to threaten or deter other women involved with Gayle.”
Following Yang’s discovery that Gayle would soon become a father in 2007, another friend testified that Yang discussed the idea of killing him. However, the plan subsequently shifted towards Rhoni Reuter, as testified by Christi Paschen, a long-time friend. Paschen informed the court that Yang confessed to going to Reuter’s apartment building but backed out before carrying out the plan.
The night before the murders, Yang stayed over at Paschen’s house and requested a tarot card reading, specifically to ascertain her chances of successfully killing Reuter.
Although Paschen advised her to “leave it alone,” she proceeded with the reading. One of the cards flipped during the reading supposedly “indicated achievement of a goal.” Despite the unsettling nature of the request, Paschen did not consider it serious enough to involve the police.
At 7:50 a.m. the next morning, witnesses reported observing a small figure adorned in face paint and a wig at Reuter’s apartment building. Nearby residents heard a scream, muffled bangs, and a crash. Prosecutors alleged that Yang employed a silencer for the attack, and bank records indicated she had purchased a two-volume book set titled “How to Make Disposable Silencers” two months prior to the shooting.
Rhoni Reuter, seven months pregnant, suffered seven gunshot wounds, including one through the head and two through the stomach. A forensic pathologist noted that bullet wounds in her arms indicated she died attempting to shield her unborn child from the gunfire.
Prosecutors alleged that Yang even took a trophy from the crime scene—a medical-alert bracelet from Reuter’s wrist, identifying her as an expectant mother.
Presently, Yang is serving two concurrent life sentences at the Logan Correctional Center in Illinois.