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American Dream Turns Into Nightmare For Irish Couple

March 26, 1988

CHICAGO (AP) _ A young Irishman, in jail on a murder charge while the woman who crossed an ocean to see him lies comatose, says he hopes they still can have a life together.

″I’m scared out of my wits,″ Daniel Stokes, 21, said in a telephone interview Friday from the Cook County Jail, where he is being held on a murder charge that could bring the death penalty if he is convicted.

Margaret Hanley, who flew from her home in Ireland to see Stokes in jail, remains in a coma at Weiss Memorial Hospital after being hit by a car on St. Patrick’s Day. She is in critical condition.

″I hope that one day I should walk away from this and make a life for both of us,″ Stokes said.

Stokes and Miss Hanley met in August 1987, when Stokes returned to Ireland from Chicago, where his mother lives and he lived briefly.

Miss Hanley, 22, was an actress for Stokes’ father, a theater company owner in Dublin, Stokes said. That’s where their love story began.

″I met her the very day I got off the plane. She was over at my house. She came over on her tea break because she and my sister are best friends,″ Stokes recalled.

Romance ″was in the air,″ he said. ″We got very serious after a couple of weeks. We found that we were very compatible.″

But Stokes, a cabinetmaker, found hard economic times in Dublin, so he returned to Chicago in November.

On Dec. 29, Stokes was charged with bludgeoning his landlord to death in the man’s apartment, said Lisa Howard, a spokeswoman for the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office.

Stokes allegedly took hundreds of dollars and the man’s car before fleeing, she said. He is charged with first-degree murder, residential burglary, armed robbery, home invasion, armed violence, and possession of stolen motor vehicle, Ms. Howard said.

Stokes, who declined to discuss the case, pleaded innocent and has a pretrial hearing scheduled for March 31.

Despite the murder charge, Miss Hanley and Stokes’ sister Susie, 20, flew to Chicago on Feb. 23. Miss Hanley knew Stokes was in jail, but wanted to help him, he said.

She wrote him letters ″saying that no matter what, she wanted to be there for me,″ Stokes said.

Their reunion at the jail ″was very emotional,″ he said. ″I think she was more or less speechless.

″I was delighted, I was overwhelmed because it proved something to me ... that a woman willing to travel 1,000 miles to see me must be worth keeping.″

But he said ″the emotional stress of seeing me behind bars″ was hard for Miss Hanley to accept.

She called her family, telling them she planned to return home March 18.

″She said she’d explain it all to us later,″ said her father, Stephen Hanley.

But she was hit by the car March 17. Her parents flew to Chicago after the accident and have kept a vigil at their daughter’s bedside.

Stokes said he still hopes he and Miss Hanley will be together again.

″I’m madly in love with her. There’s something there that no other woman has shown,″ Stokes said.

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