A Marion County Jury deliberated four hours before returning a guilty verdict to Lorenzo Patton of Chicago for the first-degree murder of Precious Jones at her Centralia home.
Patton who was removed from the courtroom when refusing the Judge’s order to stop proclaiming his innocence during the rebuttal portion of the closing arguments showed no visible emotion when the jury’s decision was announced.
Sentencing was set for November 10th at two pm. State’s Attorney Bill Milner says the conviction carries a mandatory 20 to 60-year prison term, but that could be enhanced depending on circumstances.
“I’m pleased with this verdict. Precious Jones now has some justice. A jury considered the evidence and came back with a guilty verdict. We’re very pleased with that result,” said Milner.
Milner also thanked the Centralia Police Department for all of their hard work in getting witnesses to trial and all their assistance provided to the State’s Attorney’s office in this case. Judge Allan Lolie revoked Patton’s bond who was ordered detained in the Marion County Jail until sentencing.
Milner opened his closing argument by says the evidence had proven Patton guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Milner noted when Patton returned to a home he had been staying he told Leanne Williams that Jones was dead. Milner says that was before Jones’ body had been discovered and police were called. The State’s Attorney noted the TV set brought into the Williams home was determined via serial number to be the same TV that had disappeared from Jones’ home when her body was found. Milner also argued that Charita Lennox was always telling the truth and consistent when talking to police about what Patton had told her about killing Jones.
Public Defender Craig Griffin admitted Patton was a drug dealer but was NOT guilty of Jones’ murder. He questioned what he saw as holes in the prosecution’s case. He asked why some evidence was not tested for fingerprints, why the last person known to have seen Jones alive was not questioned, and why Christopher Carroll was not questioned further about his potential role in the killing. Griffin called the investigation sloppy. He reminded everyone that you have a presumption of innocence until proven guilty. Griffin asked the jurors if Patton was their son could you say he was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
As Milner was making his rebuttal statement, Patton bolted out ‘I’m innocent, they are lying, I didn’t kill her, it’s my life man.” When Patton refused to stop talking, he was removed from the courtroom for the rest of the closing arguments.