PONTIAC — Former Pontiac prison inmate Terry Hubbell testified Monday that he believed Mark Winger was serious about having a witness in his 2002 Sangamon County murder killed after Winger brought it up five to eight times.





PONTIAC — Former Pontiac prison inmate Terry Hubbell testified Monday that he believed Mark Winger was serious about having a witness in his 2002 Sangamon County murder killed after Winger brought it up five to eight times.


Hubbell, convicted of murder in 1992 in Richland County, was the main prosecution witness on the first day of Winger’s murder-for-hire trial before Chief Circuit Judge Harold Frobish.


Winger, 44, is serving a sentence of natural life in prison after being convicted of the 1995 hammer slaying of his wife, Donnah, and the shooting death of Roger Harrington, an airport shuttle van driver he set up as a patsy for Donnah’s murder.


Winger is being tried in Livingston County for allegedly attempting to get Hubbell to find someone outside the prison system to kill his former girlfriend, then known as DeAnn Schultz, and a boyhood friend, Jeffrey Gelman. Schultz was a key prosecution witness in Winger’s 2002 double-murder trial, and Gelman is  a wealthy real estate developer who had businesses in Chicago and now lives in Florida.


Winger allegedly was upset that Gelman wouldn’t post $1 million bond for him in the Sangamon County case.


His alleged plot, which prosecutors say was detailed in a 19-page, handwritten note given first to Hubbell and then to investigators, had Gelman being kidnapped and separated from his wife and children, then held up for ransom so his family wouldn’t be harmed.


The “hit men” were then to kill Gelman and his family, as well as Schultz, and be paid from the ransom money.


Livingston County public defender Randell Morgan told the eight-woman, four-man jury there was never any solicitation for murder, just Winger’s “fantasies.”


“There’s not a lot to do in prison,” Morgan said. “He puts his thoughts down on paper, never expecting to be taken seriously.”


Much of Monday’s testimony centered on a one-hour recording of a conversation between Winger and Hubbell in the Pontiac Correctional Center recreation yard on June 13, 2005.


“The defendant came to him (Hubbell) with a plot to make contact to have a witness done away with,” said Livingston County first assistant state’s attorney Carey Luckman. “The plot was put in writing. The writing was none other than the defendant’s.”


“He mentioned something about wanting to get rid of a witness in his case,” Hubbell told Luckman in response to a question. Hubbell said he didn’t believe Winger initially because “at first, everyone says they want to get rid of a witness in their case.”


But when Winger kept asking Hubbell to help with the plot, he went to a private investigator who had worked on his case, who in turn contacted authorities. Hubbell eventually agreed to wear a recording device and engage Winger in conversation.


Morgan said that Illinois State Police special agent Casey Payne and FBI special agent Peter Buckley “wanted Hubbell to get Winger to say certain things.”

“He doesn’t get what they wanted on the wire,” Morgan said.


On the recording, Winger and Hubbell, who met at the Pontiac prison, talk about the problems Hubbell’s fictitious “hit men” are having figuring out how to force Schultz (in 2005 DeAnn Anderson) to write a note telling her husband that she is leaving and doesn’t want to be found.


Hubbell is heard telling Winger the hit men don’t want to get Hubbell in trouble by burying Schultz on his property.


Winger tells Hubbell he doesn’t care where Schultz is buried “as long as its 30 feet.”


The pair also are heard discussing how much money Gelman might have, and Winger says he was told by Gelman that he had $100 million in the bank. He says he saw Gelman’s luxury penthouse in Chicago and that it took up an entire floor and had a wave pool.


But Winger admits he hasn’t seen Gelman since 1981 and last talked to him on the phone in 2001.


When Hubbell asks why Gelman wouldn’t post bail for Winger after his arrest later in 2001, Winger replies that Gelman “still gets a cup of ice and a cup of soda. He’s just real stingy.”


Later on in the conversation Winger tells Hubbell “the only thing that matters at this point is getting out and doing things right by you and having a good career and opportunities with you.”


Winger is heard on the recording telling Hubbell he would work for Hubbell’s “hit men” after he gets out of prison.


“If they’re ever on a job...,” he says. “I’d do the first one for room and board.”

He says he once wanted to be a CIA hit man when he got out of college.

“I know I can pull a trigger,” he says.


Luckman asked Hubbell if he expected anything in return for cooperating with authorities against Winger.


“Whatever I could get,” he said.


Morgan said evidence will show that Hubbell got a transfer from Pontiac to Pinckneyville, which is a less-restrictive prison, a job and “thousands of dollars.”


Donnah Winger’s stepfather, Ira Drescher, was in the courtroom before being asked to leave because he was on the defense’s list as a potential witness.


Luckman said he expects to rest his case sometime today (Tuesday), and the case could go to the jury by Wednesday.


If convicted, Winger, who already faces lifelong imprisonment, could be sentenced to an additional term of up to 60 years.


 Chris Dettro can be reached at (217) 788-1510 or chris.dettro@sj-r.com.