Marni Yang has been sitting in a downstate prison since 2011 when she was sentenced to life for the 2007 murders of Rhonnie Reuter and her unborn child.
On Tuesday, because of new DNA evidence, a judge is now giving Yang a chance to prove her innocence.
“This is a big step towards exoneration,” said Jed Stone, Marni Yang’s Attorney.
The legal team of 51-year-old convicted murderer Yang declared a small victory at the Lake County courthouse after a judge allowed her petition for a re-trial to move forward.
“Our petition does have merit and does state a constitutional claim and I believe will ultimately exonerate Marni Yang,” said Stone.
Private investigators hired by Yang say they found DNA evidence matching an unknown man on five unspent shell casings found at the crime scene.
“We have at this point proven through our investigative efforts that Marni Yang was not the killer,” said Perry Myers, Private Detective.
Yang's convicted of murdering Reuter, the girlfriend of former Chicago Bear Shaun Gayle, and her unborn baby in Deerfield in October of 2007.
After the judge's decision, Yang's father said justice is now on the horizon for his daughter.
“Marni is better, and she's getting better,” said Larry Merar, Yang’s father. “And hopefully before too long she'll be enjoying Thanksgiving with us again.”
Despite that optimism, the Lake County prosecutor downplayed the judge's decision, telling FOX 32, "This is a formal three stage process. During stage 1, the judge is only required to review the statements made by the defense attorney. Therefore, to make it from stage 1 to stage 2 was and is expected. At stage 2, we will have the opportunity to respond to the claims made by the defense for the first time."
Prosecutors now have until late February to file a response.
The next hearing in the possible re-trial isn't expected to happen until March, at the earliest.