High-profile P.I. helped free Porter
By Kevin Lyons
The Northwest Herald – February 11, 1999
CHICAGO– Accused killer Edward Milka is using the same private investigator who obtained the videotaped confession that freed Anthony Porter from death row.
Milka, 22, of Elgin, is accused Of murdering, kidnapping and sexually assaulting his niece, 11-year-old Brittany Martinez, on May 8, 1997. He pleaded innocent and is in McHenry County jail on $5 million bond.
In March, Judge Ward Arnold allowed Milka’s defense attorney. Stephen Komie, to use county funds to hire Paul J. Ciolino as a defense investigator because Milka is indigent.
The high-profile Chicago detective helped clear Cardinal Joseph Bernardin of molestation charges and the Ford Heights Four, who were released two years ago from death row.
But Ciolino’s most recent media attention stemmed from convincing a 48-year-old Milwaukee man to confess to a 1982 murder on Chicago’s South Side.
Alstory Simon’s confession led to the release of Porter, who spent 17 years on death row for the double homicide.
Simon, 48, of Milwaukee claims he committed the murders in self-defense.
Northwestern University Journalism students, led by professor David Profess, hired Ciolino to help free Porter.
Ciolino, who lives in Arlington Heights and employs five investigators in his Chicago firm, agreed to work on Milka’s case at a reduced rate of $75 per hour.
He said he has worked with Komie several times, most notably on the Sandra Fabiano case.
Fabiano, who owned a daycare center in the south suburbs, was acquitted of charges of molesting several children.
“I don’t think Steve and I have ever lost a sex case,” Ciolino said. “I have an expertise in homicide and sex cases. I do a lot of them.”
Ciolino, a former U.S. Army intelligence officer, also founded the first child homicide task force for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.
He estimated he has taken about 150 confessions in criminal cases and averages about 3,000 fraud investigations each year.
“We lock up far more people than we get off death row,” Ciolino said.
He said he was pleased Arnold allowed him to work on the case and said the judge’s decision to allow Milka to hire an investigator and expert witnesses shows Arnold has a strong desire to preside over a fair trial.
“It’s a lot easier to deal with it now than it is 16 years later,” he said, referring to the Porter investigation.
Ciolino said he already has identified at least two potential suspects whom he said could have killed Martinez.
“I’m interested in the case because I’m not even remotely convinced (Milka) had anything to do with it,” Ciolino said.
Some of Ciolino’s biggest cases had death-penalty implications, as does the Milka case.
McHenry County State’s Attorney Gary Pack said he probably will not seek the death
penalty for Milka out of consideration for the victim’s mother, Wendi Howlett.
Howlett has said she believes her brother is innocent.
But attorneys are proceeding with the case as if Milka will face the death penalty.
Although Ciolino participated last year in a death-penalty conference regarding investigative techniques at Northwestern University, Ciolino said he is not morally opposed to capital punishment.
“I’m in favor of it in certain circumstances, but I’m not in favor of the way it’s going in the state right now,” he said.
“I’m opposed to it until they can get it right.”