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Crime & Courts

Psychologist's testimony to be limited at Curl trial

SYCAMORE – A clinical psychologist will be limited in the testimony she can give during the murder trial of William “Billy” Curl, a judge ruled Tuesday.

DeKalb County Presiding Judge Robbin Stuckert, who earlier denied prosecutors’ request to bar testimony from a forensic psychologist, granted the state’s motion Tuesday to limit the scope of the doctor’s testimony at Curl’s trial, which is scheduled to begin April 11.

Psychologist Jayne Braden can testify about her diagnosis of Curl’s mental conditions, but will not be able to talk about any statements Curl made to her about the charges he faces.

Curl, 36, of DeKalb, is accused of murder, concealing a homicidal death, arson and criminal sexual assault in the death of Northern Illinois University freshman Antinette “Toni” Keller’s in October 2010.

Stephanie Klein, a prosecutor with the DeKalb County State’s Attorney Office, said she was pleased with the ruling.

“The scope of what Braden will be allowed to testify on is going to be limited,” she said. “I believe that was the legally correct ruling.”

DeKalb County Public Defender Tom McCulloch argued for relaxed limits on the testimony, citing the doctrine of completeness.

Now known as Rule 106 of the Federal Rules of Evidence, the rule states that if one party introduces part of a written or recorded statement, the other party may request any other part of that statement to be considered for context, even if it is generally considered hearsay.

Prosecutors argued Curl’s statements regarding the charges to Braden and police officers should be considered hearsay.

Stuckert agreed with the McCulloch in part, saying she could not prematurely rule on Braden’s testimony and both sides would need to object during the testimony.    

“We’re doing this in piecemeal,” McCulloch said of the pretrial process. “I think it was a very fair ruling.”

Defense attorneys also asked prosecutors to clarify language in Curl’s indictment.

McCulloch said that instead of language such as “on or about” and “in DeKalb County,” the prosecution needs precise terms for when, where and how the alleged crimes took place.

“We’re just asking [prosecutors] to commit,” McCulloch said.

The issue will be addressed at Curl’s next court appearance, scheduled for Feb. 26.

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