[Watch live coverage of the trial in the player above.]
The murder trial of Stanley Liggins is taking place in an Iowa courtroom. Prosecutors say he kidnapped 9-year-old Jennifer Lewis in 1990, sexually abused her, strangled her, and burned her body near an elementary school in the city of Davenport.
This is the third time jurors will hear the case. The two earlier convictions didn’t stick.
A jury found him guilty in 1993, but the Iowa Supreme Court overturned this a year later. They reportedly determined that not only did jurors improperly hear evidence that the defendant sold cocaine, but that the prosecutors didn’t prove that the assault, kidnapping, and sexual abuse actually happened in Iowa.
Prosecutors had to do it all over again. And once again, they won a conviction in 1995. This even survived a challenge in the Iowa Supreme Court the next year. But another court overturned the verdict later anyway. In 2013, the Iowa Court of Appeals reversed and remanded the case, saying the state suppressed exculpatory evidence.
You can read that ruling here, but the long and short of it is that the defense 1) didn’t know a key prosecution witness was a paid police informant; and 2) didn’t obtain 77 police reports. All this was favorable to the defense, and suppressing this information denied Liggins a fair trial, judges ruled.
This case is being tried in a Black Hawk County courtroom because of concerns about pretrial publicity tainting the jury pool, according to The Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier. Jury selection whittled down 150 potential jurors to 12 mains and three alternates, according to the Times. The judge said the trial could last up to four weeks.
[Screengrab via Our Quad City]