Kane County state's attorney named as prosecutor in Van Dyke case

- Kane County State Attorney Joseph McMahon Thursday was named as the special prosecutor assigned to handle the controversial murder case of Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke.

“I’m glad to accept this responsibility,” Joseph McMahon said after Cook County Judge Vincent Gaughan announced his appointment and swore him into the office.

“…Every case, whatever the situation is, has its own unique challenges. I expect this case to be no different.”

McMahon said he will be working with a team of veteran prosecutors, including his colleagues in Kane County: Jody Gleason, Joseph Cullen and Daniel Weiler.

Also helping McMahon will be Marilyn Hite Ross, an African-American woman and former Cook County prosecutor who is now the chief of the criminal bureau in Winnebago County.

McMahon stressed that 38-year-old Van Dyke, like other defendants, should be considered innocent until proven guilty.

“I and this team has one goal in this case, that is to find the truth, to present the truth and ask that justice be served in this case,” McMahon said.

Van Dyke is accused of shooting African-African teen Laquan McDonald 16 times in October 2014.

While McMahon didn’t give specifics, he said his team has had years of experience prosecuting violent crimes, including crimes against police officers.

He also noted that the Kane County State’s Attorney has previously served as a special prosecutor in DuPage, McHenry and Kendall counties.

Anne Kavanagh, a spokeswoman for Van Dayke’s lawyer Daniel Herbert, said, “The defense has never objected to the special prosecutor in this case and they’re prepared to defend the case no matter who the prosecutor is.”

McMahon’s appointment comes months after Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez recused herself from the Van Dyke case in May.

McMahon, who has been a lawyer for 24 years, was appointed to be Kane County state’s attorney in 2010 after his predecessor left to become a judge. He successfully ran for the job in 2012 as a Republican and is running for re-election this year.

McMahon grew up in Kane County, got his bachelor’s degree in 1988 from the University of Iowa and his law degree from the John Marshall Law School in 1992. McMahon also has an MBA from the University of Notre Dame.

Prior to working as an assistant state’s attorney, McMahon had worked at a private law firm in the city. He became a prosecutor in 1992 in Kane County. From 1998 to 2000, he served as chief of the criminal division there.

As a prosecutor, McMahon said he has handled “all sort so cases…from low level cases…to murder cases, crimes of violence and gang-related offenses.”

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