DECATUR - The trial of a 65-year-old man charged with the 1968 murder of a service station attendant in Blue Mound might be delayed, after his attorneys filed motions to exclude evidence.
John Joynt III, who was arrested May 14, 2009, for the murder of 35-year-old Bruce Clark during an attempted robbery, appeared in a courtroom Thursday afternoon, during a hearing to determine whether statements he made to his wives and detectives should be disallowed.
His trial is schedule for June 1 in Macon County Circuit Court.
Joynt's attorneys, assistant public defenders Rodney Forbes and Karen Root, argued that any statements that Joynt made to Rita Joynt Rever and Rita Joynt Eckhoff during his marriages to them cannot be used as testimony in a criminal trial.
Rever was married to Joynt from 1968 to 1975, including the day of the murder, Oct. 7, 1968. Eckhoff was married to Joynt from 1978 to 1995.
Sgt. James Hermann of the Macon County Sheriff's Office testified that Rever told him during a 2009 interview that Joynt told her in 1969 that he and another man had robbed and killed Clark.
Hermann also testified that Anita Kooms, who lived with Joynt as his stepdaughter, told him that Joynt threatened her when she was a teen by telling her he had killed someone in the past and he could do it again. In a complaint for an arrest warrant filed in circuit court, Hermann reported that Anita Kooms said her mother, Rita Eckhoff, told her in 2002 or 2003: "(Joynt) always said that he killed that guy in the gas station in Blue Mound."
The cold case came to light because Anita Kooms contacted police to tell her story last March.
Assistant State's Attorney Tammy Wagoner and First Assistant State's Attorney Jay Scott argued that the conversations between Joynt and his wives were not privileged because he also told other people that he was involved in the killing of Clark.
Joynt's lawyers also moved to suppress confession of the Clark killing he allegedly made to detectives in 1969 while he was imprisoned for an armed robbery in Decatur. The attorneys argued that his statements were not voluntary because he suffered from mental illness and was taking psychiatric drugs while in the psychiatric ward of Menard Correctional Center.
Root said she wants to hire a specific psychologist from Michigan to examine Joynt's psychiatric records, to determine his mental state in 1969 and whether he was competent to make a confession. Circuit Judge Lisa Holder White balked at approving someone who is not a psychiatrist and would incur extra expenses because of travel distance. She asked Root to try to find someone more local. The issue of whether the public defender's office will pay any expert was discussed but unresolved.
White took the marriage issue under advisement, pending more case law to be filed with her by Forbes within seven days. The next hearing on both issues is scheduled for May 14.