December 5, 2012




Mike Nerheim, Lake County States Attorney

Lake County State's Attorney's Official Statement on the Bennie Starks Case

I have carefully reviewed the facts, reports, physical evidence, and Appellate Court opinions regarding the Bennie Starks Aggravated Battery charge. I have also considered the fact that Mr. Starks has served approximately 20 years in the Department of Corrections.


A Lake County jury previously found Mr. Starks guilty of Aggravated Battery. They considered all of the evidence in the case including the victim's identification of the defendant, some property of Mr. Starks that was found at the crime scene, some scratches located on Mr. Stark's body, and a bite-mark comparison of oral impressions left on the victim's body.


The Appellate Court has since issued an opinion showing concern regarding the bite-mark technology utilized in 1986.  Additionally, the victim has died and a court ruling has been issued preventing her previous trial testimony from being admitted in any subsequent hearing or trial.


Though there would be additional evidence to present to a judge or jury in any subsequent evidentiary hearing, I have decided to dismiss the Aggravated Battery charge. This decision does not reflect any opinion as to whether I believe Mr. Starks is guilty or not guilty.


Rather, in considering the history of this case, its evidence, any limited benefit in proceeding with this charge, and the fact that Mr. Starks has served more time than he could receive after any subsequent trial, the interests of justice are best served by a dismissal at this time.

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