ST. CHARLES COUNTY • A man who police linked through DNA evidence to the 2007 slaying of a St. Charles insurance agent has been found guilty of first-degree murder and robbery.
Jurors deliberated for 2 1/2 hours Thursday before finding Paul C. White, 35, a former St. Charles resident, guilty in the killing of Robert Eidman.
Eidman, 48, was shot with a 9 mm pistol three times on June 8, 2007. His body was discovered by a postal carrier making a delivery to his insurance office at 2295 First Capitol Drive.
The case went unsolved for more than three years until DNA found on the inside of Eidman's rear pocket — where he kept his wallet — matched up with White's DNA and broke the case.
During the three-day trial, assistant prosecutors Laura Whitlow and Phil Groenweghe laid out a case that was part CSI, part theater, with testimony from a series of forensics experts as well as White's play-by-play of the robbery and murder while on the stand.
White testified that he and his roommate, Cleo S. Hines, had decided to rob someone that day because White was broke after gambling away $1,200 on craps and blackjack the night before.
White said that he went to Walmart the morning of June 8 to rob someone cashing a paycheck, but he changed his mind after seeing the sea of the surveillance cameras.
He testified that he remembered his wife's car insurance agent took cash payments, so he and Hines decided to rob Eidman instead.
Jurors had to decide whether White was guilty of first-degree murder or the lesser charge of second-degree murder, what prosecutors referred to as a robbery gone wrong.
During closing arguments, Assistant Prosecutor Phil Groenweghe said it wasn't necessary for White to have been the shooter to find him guilty of first-degree murder, only that he used cool reflection in planning the crimes.
Groenweghe pointed out White's admissions that he had been the one "calling the shots" about who to rob, and they had used White's loaded gun.
"Whoever was pulling the trigger, there's no doubt he (White) was pulling the strings," Groenweghe said.
Evidence showed that the shots had been aimed at Eidman's head, Groenweghe said, the last one firing through Eidman's eye from a few feet away.
"Everything about the crime scene screams cold, deliberate execution," Groenweghe said.
Public Defender Heather Donovan argued that while it was true that White planned a robbery, he never intended for those plans to include murder.
Circuit Judge Lucy Rauch set sentencing for Sept. 17. White faces two life sentences without parole.
The case against White's alleged accomplice, Hines, is set for jury trial on Sept. 5. He also is charged with first-degree robbery and murder.
Eidman's widow, Diane, declined to comment after the verdict.