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Durbin, Obama Appeal on Slain Doctor's Behalf

By Shannon in News on Aug 22, 2007 8:25PM

After months upon months of pounding the pavement and posting in cyberspace, the Cornbleet family allegedly has their man. Dermatologist Dr. David Cornbleet was murdered last October in his Michigan Avenue office. Since then, his son Jon has worked seemingly ‘round the clock to track down his father’s killer. Taking a tip from an unspecified source, officials arrested Hans Peterson, 29, Aug. 6 on the French island of St. Martin. For the time being, Peterson is being held in Guadalupe. But how long will that last?

the cornbleetsWell, extradition back to the U.S. has turned into a nasty jam. Peterson’s claiming to be a French national through his mother. That doesn’t sit well with officials both in France and stateside. Obviously the Cornbleets want Peterson back “home” ASAP, but the French won’t give up as long as the death penalty is a potential outcome. A possible scenario is a trial held in the Caribbean with French-backed prosecution. Odd thought for a crime committed in the heart of the Midwest.

Enter Illinois' U.S. senators Dick Durbin and Barack Obama. Both men took it upon themselves to write letters to the French government (and Condie Rice) urging them to extradite the supposed murderer. The crux of their argument is that Peterson may have used his mother’s geographical trump card to avoid persecution. Moreover, French-U.S. extradition law focuses on when the nationalism was declared; if it happened after the murder, Peterson’s return to the States would be most imminent. Jon Cornbleet’s MySpace page, which up until recently held details of the crime and begged for info, now carries ongoing news of the extradition struggle and pushes visitors to send their own messages of support to the French embassy and Ms. Rice.

As for seeking the death penalty, Jon says he’s not ready to give a statement concerning that right now, that family members have many different views on the situation. We have to wonder ourselves: considering the state in which the crime occurred, does it matter? Hypothetically Peterson could be sentenced to death, but with George Ryan's execution moratorium (upheld by Blago in 2003), he would rot on Death Row much as if he were sentenced to life. Our unique Illinois history, along with Peterson’s Caribbean flight, makes for some interesting locality angles in this case.