September 27, 2012A 20 year old murder case from Henry County goes back before an Illinois appellate court Thursday. Douglas Oaks contends he might have received a lighter sentence if evidence of his own abuse as a child had been introduced during his trial.
Oaks, from Cambridge, was originally sentenced to death for the killing in 1992 of his girlfriend's 3 year old son, Jerry Nelson. Later his sentence was commuted to life in prison.
Henry County State's Attorney Terry Patton says evidence that Oaks was abused as a child was introduced, but the trial judge ruled it did NOT mitigate his responsibility for killing the child.
The case will be argued in Ottawa, at the Third District Appellate Court.
The child's mother, Tonya Nelson, was also convicted of murder and sentenced to 75 years in prison under the Illinois accountability law - that she knew or should have known her son was being abused by Oaks. That law was later over-turned by the state supreme court, and she was released in 2004.