Manslaughter charge on Gogola dropped

By Daron Walker

The voluntary manslaughter charge against legally blind NIU student Peter Gogola was dropped Wednesday at the request of First State’s Attorney Michael Coghlan.

Gogola’s bench trial for illegal possession of a firearm without firearm owner’s identification, a misdemeanor, was rescheduled for 10 a.m. Oct. 19.

Gogola and Gerardo Diaz, another legally blind student, were both charged with voluntary manslaughter in connection with the July 22, 1986 shooting death of Robert Lurz, 30, of Genoa, as Lurz attempted to enter Diaz’s apartment.

Judge Rex Meilinger pronounced Diaz not guilty of voluntary manslaughter Sept. 21.

Coghlan said the state moved to dismiss the voluntary manslaughter charges against Gogola after the co-defendant (Diaz) was found not guilty.

Gogola’s attorney, Edward Diedrich, said he and his client are ready to start the trial.

“We came today expecting a trial. I’m here ready for the trial. It is the third time it has been postponed,” Diedrich said.

Diedrich said Gogola is innocent of the weapons charge. “He had no possession of any firearm. I don’t know of any evidence they (prosecution) had that showed he (Gogola) had possession,” Diedrich said.

Coghlan said he believes Gogola is guilty of the weapons charge.

Coghlan said possession of a firearm without a firearm owner’s identification is a Class A misdemeanor punishable up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.