Dennis Shere offers up what it was like to defend an accused mass murderer in his book, The Last Meal—Defending an Accused Mass Murderer, which chronicles the 1993 Brown’s Chicken killings in Palatine.
The book allows readers to be the juror in the case against Juan Luna, one of the men who stood trial for killing seven employees who worked at the fast-food eatery in the affluent suburb outside of Chicago 18 years ago. It was one of the most gruesome crimes in the Chicagoland area.
The most compelling aspect of the book, is that readers are able to sit in on the trial and decide Luna’s fate after hearing all the evidence and witness testimony, as recounted in Shere’s book.
Told from the perspective of one of the defense attorneys, Shere, reconstructs the events leading up to trial and the weeks in the courtroom that followed.
Friday, Jan. 8, 1993 would go down as one of the deadliest nights in Palatine. Soon after Brown’s Chicken closed, seven employees were slain in a grisly manner. Hours passed before a police officer would find the workers. The officer was helping the Castro family locate their son, who hadn't returned home after work that night. The officer would come upon a scene he'd never forget.
It would be nearly 1o years before the victims‘ family members would see the killers, Juan Luna and Jim Degorski, apprehended. Luna was a former employee of the Brown’s Chicken and Pasta restaurant, and now sits behind bars for the deaths of those individuals, some of which were his former coworkers.
What makes this true crime book unique is that it’s told from the perspective of a defense attorney, who’s own story is similarly intriguing. Shere went back to law school at the age of 60, attending class at DePaul University College of Law with peers half his age.
After graduating, Shere, would later find himself as one of the attorneys defending an accused mass murderer, Luna.
One answer you won’t get from the book is Shere’s personal feelings about the
outcome of the trial. Don’t expect Shere to divulge his thoughts on whether or not he thinks Luna helped in the murder of seven individuals alongside his high school friend Degorski.
“I don’t feel answering that question accomplishes anything,” Shere told an audience at Wilmette Library on Saturday.
The retelling of this true crime, that captivated the people of Chicago, reveals what it’s like to spend years defending a man many wanted to see executed. After sitting through 258 pages it would be interesting to know if readers would also convict Juan Luna of murder.
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