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Crime & Courts

Witness provides alibi for defendant in DeKalb bank robbery

Eric Bernard, 31, is on trial for armed robbery.
Eric Bernard, 31, is on trial for armed robbery.

DeKALB — Associated Bank employee Brian Fleming thought he was going to die on Nov. 11, 2009, when two gunmen came into the DeKalb bank and stole more than $6,000.

Fleming testified Thursday for the defense in the armed robbery trial for Eric Bernard, 31, of Chicago, who would face between six and 30 years in prison if convicted.

Fleming said he thought he knew one of the suspects who robbed the bank, but that person was found not to be a suspect. Still, Fleming could not identify Bernard as one of the suspects who robbed the bank.

"When you go through something like this, you never want to relive it," Fleming said. "It's hard to talk about it."

After prosecutors rested their case against Bernard on Thursday morning, it was the defense's turn to call witnesses.

One of those witnesses was Bernard's sister, Antoinette Harvey, who testified that Bernard was at her house in Calumet City the whole day of the robbery for a barbecue.

Under cross examination by Assistant State's Attorney Duke Harris, Harvey acknowledged that she never told police about Bernard's alibi. Harvey said it was because in her contact with police, they never asked her about Bernard's whereabouts.

DeKalb police detective Lt. Bob Redel, a rebuttal witness for the state, testifed that he called Harvey on April 29, 2010. Redel said he never got the chance to tell Harvey they were investigating an armed robbery and considered Bernard a suspect.

"We never got to that point because she hung up the phone," Redel said.

Bernard's defense also called a witness to dispute the accuracy of testing that found on a discarded wig used in the robbery matched Bernard.

Karl Reich, a forensic scientist at an independent lab in Lombard, said that because the DNA evidence was tested by a machine past due of calibration, it could potentially interfere with results.

"When you do forensics, if the instrument is not properly calibrated, results will be inaccurate or false," Reich said.

The defense rested its case just before noon Thursday. Closing arguments will begin at 1:30 p.m. and then the jury is expected to deliberate.

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