Editor: Brian Vickers: Photojournalistbrian@gmail.com
After Joan Tribblet and Everette Johnson were officially charged for the murder, and with concealing the homicide of their 16-month old daughter, the two were held in Cook Count lock up to await trial. While awaiting trial, Tribblet and Johnson wrote each-other. Johnson repeatedly told Tribblet, in his letters, “go the law library, and get an affidavit, say that you did everything, due to the fact that you don’t have a criminal record;” “and when they let me out of jail, I’ll get a lawyer to fight for you.” Johnson continued directing verbal disrespect and abuse towards Tribblet.
The Cook County Public Defender’s office assigned Public Defense Attorney Marijane Placek and Assistant Public Defender Alvin Hill to Tribblet’s case. In Tribblet’s view her lead attorney, Marijane Placek, was an attorney who “was not interested in fighting for her.” However, Tribblet remembers her Assistant Public Defense Attorney Alvin Hill, as someone, in her opinion, who did everything he could to fight for her. Tribblet vividly recalls, how Attorney Hill would often visit her in Cook County jail.
Tribblet also recalls other representatives of the Public Defender’s Office being against Attorney Hill, not just because of the magnitude of her case; but the intense effort he put into defending Joan Tribblet. The state was seeking the death penalty against Joan Tribblet’s co-defendant, Everette Johnson, and Attorney Placek felt her client, Tribblet, would not get any sympathy from a jury or a Judge, if Tribblet would have chosen to stand trial. Furthermore, there was a good chance Tribblet might have received the death penalty if she would have been convicted. Therefore, Attorney Placek thought it was best to get Tribblet “a number of years,” because Attorney Placek “did not want Tribblet’s blood on her hands.” Tribblet agreed to plead guilty to the murder of her daughter, and to the charge of concealment of a homicide. As part of the plea deal, Tribblet also agreed to testify against her co-defendant Johnson.
On Wednesday August 28, 2002, the second day of her co-defendant Everette Johnson’s bench trial, Joan Tribblet took the witness stand and testified against him. During her testimony, Tribblet blamed Johnson for the death of their daughter. Tribblet also testified, the actual killing of Oncwanique “was an accident.” Tribblet went on to further testify, after realizing baby- Oncwanique was dead, both Tribblet and Johnson went into the bathroom with the lifeless body of baby-Oncwanique, and that’s when Johnson began to dismember the toddler’s body.
On Friday August 30, 2002, Judge Lon Schultz sentenced Joan Tribblet to 60-years in prison for murder and concealment of a homicide. The 60-year sentence came a shock to her Assistant Public Defense Attorney, Alvin Hill; because “Tribblet turned state’s evidence against her co-defendant.” Moreover, Tribblet did not cause the death of the baby.” Attorney Hill also thought Tribblet’s lengthy prison sentence of 60-years, was in his words “a misplacement of justice.”