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Ex-Client Charged With Killing Lawyer; Death At First Thought Natural

Posted Aug 25, 2009 5:27 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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A former client and trusted friend of a retired Illinois criminal defense attorney has been charged with smothering the 82-year-old, along with another man, allegedly in order to steal his gun collection.

Terry Bratcher, 43, allegedly murdered Carl Kuhn by pushing his head into a pillow, reports the Chicago Tribune.

Kuhn's death Friday was initially thought to be of natural causes, and was treated routinely in a Tribune obituary about the longtime criminal defense lawyer. But authorities interviewed Bratcher and his co-defendant, Keith Allen, 21, after phone records showed Bratcher had called Kuhn on the day his body was found at his home in suburban Chicago, Assistant DuPage County State's Attorney Robert Berlin tells the newspaper.

The former police officer and 52-year criminal defense practitioner was an avid gun collector, and had a collection of more than 40 weapons, the Tribune recounts. They were found in Bratcher's garage, according to Berlin.

"The hardest part of this whole thing is this wasn't someone who just wanted to steal my father's guns or someone who just wanted money," the victim's son, Eric Kuhn, tells the newspaper. "This was a trusted friend of my father's. They didn't kick open the door; my father opened it and let them in."

Allen is being held in lieu of $3 million bond, and a judge declined to set bond for Bratcher. The article doesn't include any comment from a representative of either defendant.

Additional coverage:

Daily Herald: "Cops: Bartlett gun collector smothered, robbed in break-in"

Updated at 5:50 p.m. to include link to Daily Herald article.

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