The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

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September 21, 2012

Ill. man guilty of murdering wife, kids in 2007

(Continued)

JOLIET, Ill. —

Abigayle was found holding a stuffed animal and a Harry Potter book. Forensics experts said the trajectory of the bullet into Blake's chest indicated he had raised his arm up as he was shot.

During nearly a full day of closing arguments Thursday, prosecutor Chris Regis read emails that Christopher Vaughn wrote to a friend before the murders saying he longed for a life unencumbered by cellphones and other hallmarks of modernity.

Regis said Vaughn felt held back by four obstacles, all of which "were eliminated on June 14, 2007."

Vaughn took notes during the nearly six hours of closing arguments but displayed little emotion, even when prosecutors displayed crime-scene photos of his wife, her head hanging back and dried blood near her nose and mouth.

In his closing, defense attorney George Lenard repeated Vaughn's contention that his wife was suicidal over marriage troubles and affected emotionally by antidepressant medication. The defense claimed she shot Vaughn in the wrist and leg, then killed the children and herself.

Lenard added later that Kimberly Vaughn may have seen the murder of her kids as a twisted act of mercy.

"(She) was of the mindset that if she was gone, they were better off with her ... 'Come with me to heaven,'" Lenard said, depicting what the mother might have been thinking.

Prosecutor Mike Fitzgerald cited witnesses who testified that Kimberly Vaughn was upbeat around the time and that, just the evening before, she had fussed cheerfully over a recipe for "cheesy potatoes."

Moreover, he asked how the wife could have just grazed her husband with two bullets as he sat right next to her — yet somehow managed to put a bullet into each of her children's heads.

"No way, ladies and gentlemen," Fitzgerald told jurors. "No way that's possible."

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