A McHenry County judge ruled Friday that jurors in an upcoming trial will hear testimony that the Crystal Lake man charged with killing his wife and sister-in-law had exhibited abusive behavior with his wife about two weeks before.
The ruling came at an evidentiary hearing in the case of Ryan Yarber, 33, who is charged with first-degree murder in connection with the death of his wife, 31-year-old Allania Yarber, and her 15-year-old sister, Anniyah Reynolds.
Yarber has been held in the McHenry County Jail on $5 million bond since his arrest in August 2017.
On Aug. 3, 2017, police said Yarber shot his wife and sister-in-law to death inside the home they shared in the 100 block of Marian Parkway.
He has pleaded not guilty, claiming he shot the women in self-defense.
Moments before the shooting, Yarber said he and his wife were arguing about text messages between her and a co-worker, according to court documents. When police arrived at 8:02 p.m., they found both women “deceased as a result of multiple gunshot wounds,” according to court documents.
Yarber was found across the street sitting in the grass with the “murder weapon,” according to documents.
In court Friday, the women’s sister, Arriana Reynolds, 21, who also lives at the house, testified that on July 22, 2017, Yarber had argued with his wife and became physically aggressive with her. Arriana Reynolds said Yarber grabbed his wife and put her in a headlock with his hands around her neck while he held her arms behind her head.
Arriana Reynolds said her sister went to the basement to get away from Yarber. He followed and was forcibly grabbing her arms while Arriana Reynolds stood between them to protect her sister.
Yarber’s attorney, Chuck Bretz, said the testimony was inconsistent with what Arriana Reynolds had told police in an earlier interview. He also said that another witness who testified at a previous hearing did not say she saw anything physical between Yarber and his wife. Bretz argued the testimony would be prejudicial to Yarber.
Assistant State’s Attorney Susanne Groebner said the testimony is not inconsistent and that it “meets the criteria of probative value that far outweighs” any prejudice against Yarber. She also said the testimony is relevant to show there was a pattern of abuse in their relationship before Allania Yarber’s death.
“There are enough similarities,” Groebner said. “[The] headlock, following her to the basement, grabbing her arm while she was upset and scared. She is not here to tell us what happened to her before he murdered her. We need this testimony. Everything that happened, happened.”
There are more motions to be argued before what is expected to be a two-week trial in March, including conversations Arriana Reynolds had with her sister about communications Allania Yarber had with a co-worker.
A status date was set for Sept. 9.