The man accused of the September 2018 first degree murder of Precious Jones of Centralia took the stand in his own defense Wednesday afternoon. The jury is now set to hear closing arguments Thursday morning before beginning deliberations.
Defendant Lorenzo Patton told the jury he knew Jones and called her ‘his friend’ and denied any reason for wanting to kill her. Patton said he left the Leanne Williams home the early morning hours of the murder to have an affair and not go to Jones’ home. He claimed the TV set that prosecutors contend came from Jones’ home that he was seen carrying into William’s home when he returned was purchased from a man who wanted to trade it for heroin but settled for $40 cash because he was out of heroin. Patton contended Charita Lennox was upset with him for stealing her drug business. Lennox had earlier testified for the defense to details she said Patton told her about the murder of Jones.
The defense also presented testimony indicating that Precious Jones’s daughter’s former boyfriend Christopher Carroll of Vandalia may have been involved in the shooting death. Carroll told the jury it was no secret he didn’t get along with Precious and confirmed he was out of jail on furlough at the time of the murder. When asked directly by State’s Attorney Bill Milner if he killed Jones, Carroll quickly replied no. He denied making comments about Jones with jail inmate Sean Meredith.
Cellmate Larry Woodward of Salem testified he overheard a conversation between the two and testified Carroll indicated Precious was working with police and someone needed to take care of her.
Another inmate, Andrew Sloat, said Carroll had told him about going to Jones home and shooting her in the living room while both were out of jail in March when Carroll was taking Sloat to get drugs. He admitted Carroll jumped off a second-story porch to flee with the $1,300 he had given him for the purchase.
Sloat said he later met Patton for the first time when they were placed in the same cell block at the Marion County Jail. Sloat told Patton he didn’t think Patton committed the murder because of what Carroll had told him earlier.
Centralia Police Detective Blake Dukes testified he did share he had told Jones had been shot twice when doing an interview with him two days after the murder initially as a suspect and later as a person who may have information. Police witnesses had indicated no one outside those working the case had access to that information. Dukes said he had not provided the information to anyone else.
Griffin also tried to show inconstancies Lennox had in her various statements to police when showing the jury videos of her being questioned by police. She testified earlier on Wednesday for the prosecution that Patton had returned to Charleston the morning after the shooting and confessed to the murder. Lennox was able to provide specific details Centralia Police earlier said had not been released to anyone. They included that she was shot once at close range and with a second shot from further away and that there were two babies in the home at the time.
Lennox said Patton told her he shot Jones because he felt she had set him up to be robbed. She felt Patton may have told her about the killing so she knew what kind of person she was dealing with.
Lennox said she and Patton had set up a business partnership where she provided him drugs to sell. She admitted being upset with Patton for not returning the money from the drug sales.
Lenox testified she had not been promised anything for her testimony but admitted she hoped it would help in her current drug delivery case pending in Coles County Court.
Before resting, the prosecution also provided text and messages between Patton and Lennox. They were recovered by Mattoon Police Sergent Michael Johnson after Lennox voluntarily turned over her phone. They showed the communication between the two leading up to his return by train to Charleston later the day of the murder after she purchased him the ticket.
Forensic Scientist Dr. Shopley Bone testified Jones died from a bullet wound that severed her carotid artery in her neck. He said a second wound did not cause her death. Bone said one of the gunshots was from a close distance because the wounds included stippling caused by unburned gun powder.
Closing arguments are scheduled in the case for nine Thursday morning. The jury will then get the case to begin deliberations.