Defendant in slaying claims he panicked - Beloit Daily News: News

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Defendant in slaying claims he panicked

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Posted: Friday, September 30, 2005 12:00 am

By Hillary Wundrow

Daily News staff writer

ROCKFORD - The defense highlighted George Hansen's alibi during the third day of his murder trial.

Hansen described where he went on the night his business partner, Mary Ann Clibbery, was killed, and said it was his panic that caused him to remove a hammer and clothing from the murder scene.

Representatives from four area businesses testified to Hansen's whereabouts on Dec. 21, before Hansen gave his own account of the night's events.

Hansen, 64, is being tried for the murder of Clibbery, 69, whose body was found the morning of Dec. 22 at Al Zullo's Remodeling Specialists in Loves Park.

Closing arguments are expected to begin today in the trial.

Before a packed courtroom, a composed yet saddened Hansen gave his account of the events one chilly night in December.

After a typical day of business, Hansen said he left Al Zullo Remodeling Specialists at 5:15 p.m. Clibbery stayed behind, but said she would be Christmas shopping later that evening.

Hansen then stopped at a North Second Street ATM for a withdrawal at 5:25 p.m. before going to Backyard Bar and Grill, 5390 Elevator Road, Roscoe, at 5:30 p.m. Hansen ordered a vodka and Squirt. He had at least two more of them within the next hour and a half.

After walking around the bar, Hansen spoke with his landlady Joyce Willard and other friends before his wife joined him around 6 p.m.

Bartender Hillary Nash recalled seeing Hansen that evening and serving him three to four cocktails. After buying at least one round of drinks for some friends, Hansen and his wife left around 6:30 p.m.

Bruce Liu, the owner of Singapore Bar and Grill, 6390 Riverside Drive, Loves Park, said he saw Hansen drinking cocktails by himself sometime after 5 p.m. He was having his usual Brandy Old Fashioned, and was in good spirits.

After having a pleasant conversation with Hansen, Liu said Hansen purchased a gift certificate for $50 on his credit card.

"I was going to pick up a gift certificate for Mary Ann," Hansen said during his testimony. "She enjoyed the restaurant and my wife and I enjoyed it."

At 7 p.m. Hansen said he left Singapore Grill. With the cool weather, Hansen said he decided to stop by the office to pick up some gloves.

When Hansen arrived at the office at 7:10 p.m., he spotted Clibbery bleeding on the floor and his bloody sweater.

Although Hansen went to call 911, after looking at his bloody hammer, sweater and gloves, Hansen testified he panicked.

"They would think I did it because it's my stuff," Hansen said.

After grabbing a garbage bag, Hansen gathered up the hammer, sweater, gloves and Clibbery's purse. He then threw the sack in the back seat of his car.

"I should have just called the police," Hansen said. "I needed some time to think."

Not knowing what to do, Hansen went to pick up his granddaughter from Safety First Driving School.

Owner Brad Heidenreich said he ran a few minutes late to his pool league in South Beloit that night because of his lengthy chat with Hansen.

Hansen then stopped at Culver's to pick up a sandwich and stopped at First National Bank at Macktown.

After Hansen's granddaughter pressed to go tanning, Hansen headed to Tropical Exposure Tanning in Roscoe.

Employee V.J. Simpson checked Hansen in at 7:44 p.m., according to Tropical Exposure Tanning owner Linda Church.

Terrified, Hansen said he didn't tan that evening.

"I sat down and tried to figure out what to do," Hansen said.

After having grabbed the stuff, Hansen figured it was too late to call the police. He decided to head to the Roscoe Road Bridge at 8:45 p.m. to get rid of the garbage bag.

"I parked on the north side and ran and dropped it over the south side," Hansen said.

After what Hansen calls a sleepless night, he went to the office with Randy Baxter the next day. Pretending he didn't know Clibbery was dead, Hansen called out for her upon arrival.

He also returned to the Rock River to see if the bag had sunk.

"It was just a big rock on my shoulders," Hansen said.

After Clibbery's body was found and police were called to the scene, Hansen went to Croc's Pub.

In a dramatic cross examination, prosecutor Margie O'Connor fired off an onslaught of questions.

"You didn't touch her or try to help her?" O'Connor asked. "You had six cocktails in 90 minutes?"

Hansen said he regretted bagging up the evidence and not calling police.

"It was the dumbest and worst thing I ever did," Hansen said.

Each time, O'Connor asked why Hansen hid the bloody objects and Clibbery's purse, Hansen had the same response.

"I didn't want them to think it was me," Hansen said.

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