JOLIET – While Hollywood doesn't get everything right, there's a rhythm that's as familiar to anyone with a TV set as it is to those who frequent actual courtrooms.
"Officer, do you recall ...," "Doctor, could you form an opinion ...," "Where do you live, Mr. Smith?" are all typical ways an attorney would address a witness on the stand.
But on Tuesday, Illinois River Correctional Center Inmate #N70134 was only addressed as "McDaniel." Throughout his time on the witness stand, Brian K. McDaniel was never called "Mister" or anything but his last name by the man he allegedly recorded trying to hire him as a hit man.
Robert Gold-Smith is a Homer Glen attorney who approached McDaniel inside the Will County jail in October 2012 to offer $5,000 to kill his former wife, according to prosecutors. Gold-Smith, 53, who has been in the county jail since March 2011 on prior domestic violence charges, is representing himself in a bench trial before Judge Daniel Rozak. Gold-Smith is also facing charges of witness tampering for allegedly having a former client contact McDaniel in prison.
"McDaniel, you've been in [Will County] jail quite a bit," Gold-Smith said.
"Yes, Robert," McDaniel answered.
Gold-Smith has argued McDaniel agreed to wear a wire in the jail for detectives in exchange for leniency in his own case, but impersonated Gold-Smith's whispering voice since he was already suspected of "being a snitch."
When the recordings have been played in court, it seems McDaniel asks for and receives a piece of paper with Gold-Smith's wife's address on it. McDaniel testified he did not remember what happened to the piece of paper, nor was he given a phone number for Gold-Smith's uncle, who he testified was supposed to pay him the $5,000.
Gold-Smith's sister, Patty Rocco, also testified Tuesday and said she did not recognize the voice on the recording as her brother's when it was played for her three years ago by the Will County public defender's office.
Will County sheriff's detectives Jeff Grozik and Tony Policandriotes testified McDaniel's conversations were recorded two different ways, but there was some static on one of the recordings.
Though McDaniel was expecting $100 in his jail commissary account and phone cards for making the recordings, the man who's spent most of his life behind bars testified he received another reward from Policandriotes for helping with the investigation.
"[Prison] food is terrible," McDaniel said. "When I went to testify at the grand jury he brought me a Whopper unsolicited for lunch. It was worth a million bucks to me because it tasted so good."
McDaniel's next opportunity to enjoy fast food should come in July when he is paroled from a five-year conviction for shoplifting.
Gold-Smith's trial will continue Wednesday. If convicted, he faces up to 30 years in prison.