BLOOMINGTON - (WEEK) - A retired McLean County judge and chief prosecutor, who tried one of Central Illinois' most notorious murder cases, has died.
Ron Dozier passed away Monday after a long illness. He was 73.
Dozier was the state's attorney who charged David Hendricks with the axe slayings of his wife and three children at their Bloomington home in November 1983.
A Rockford jury found Hendricks guilty, but the Illinois Supreme Court overturned the conviction, and he was acquitted in a 1991 re-trial.
Dozier, who was a judge when Hendricks was let go, said he took comfort from knowing Hendricks, if guilty, would eventually meet his maker.
As a judge, Dozier received national attention by ordering a woman convicted of beating her infant child to wear a surgically implanted Norplant birth control device. The American Civil Liberties Union criticized the sentence Dozier imposed on Lisa Smith, 22, who pleaded guilty to fracturing the baby's skull with a music box.
After he retired from the bench, Dozier temporarily returned to the state's attorney's post when prosecutor William Yoder became a judge.
Dozier was popular among news reporters for his open-door policy with journalists who regularly covered courthouse happenings. As state's attorney, beat reporters had access to the security combination to his office, and Dozier allowed those reporters access to his chambers when he became a judge.