Costs add up in double murder trials

FRANKLIN COUNTY, IL (KFVS) - The man accused of killing two West Frankfort is another step closer to having his day in court. Michael Schallert went before a judge in Franklin County on Tuesday. He is accused of killing Kandis Majors and Terri Seibeck back in 2009.

Nearly two weeks ago, a Franklin County jury found Scalar's former girlfriend, Afton Ferris guilty of shooting Majors and Seibeck.

Meanwhile, the court bills continue to add up for Franklin County taxpayers.

Franklin County Board Chairman Randall Crocker thumbs through the budget knowing what happened in a West Frankfort home back in 2009 now takes a financial toll on his county.

"We haven't had anything like this and we are not prepared for it on the budget side," Crocker said.

Initially the state filed capital murder charges against both Ferris and Schallert.  That meant state dollars would help pay the court bills.

"Going into this budget year, we still thought we was under the capital litigation, so we wasn't that concerned and that all fell apart," Crocker said.

It fell apart when Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed a bill banning the death penalty. That left Franklin County taxpayers with an even bigger portion of Ferris's trial bill.

"There's two sides to this all this and you want to give them best defense that they need and therefore at that time we had to hire these special types of attorneys," Crocker said.

The county also must pay for extra trial security, storage of evidence, and jury expenses. Crocker says all the money set aside for jury costs this year, was used up during Ferris's trial. On top of all that, Franklin County State's Attorney Evan Owens called 19 out-of-state witness to testify.

"In this case all these witness were necessary and it was certainly an unusual case," Owens said.

Crocker says the total price tag for Ferris's trial is about $250, 000. He calls it the price of justice, and knows somehow the county must find a way to pay.

"It's all dollars to me and in the end we gotta pay for it and we're going to," Crocker said.

County leaders are now waiting to see what happens with Schallert's trial and just how much it ends up costing tax payers.

Schallert's trial is set for the beginning of September. Ferris is expected back in court July 29 to hear her sentence.

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