WHEATON (STMW) — A jury has found a former Naperville man guilty of killing his stepdaughter to keep her from testifying about a rape.
The jury deliberated for less than an hour.
A DuPage County jury began deliberating just before 1 p.m. Tuesday to determine whether Laurence Lovejoy stabbed, beat, poisoned and drowned Waubonsie Valley High School sophomore Erin Justice in Aurora. Justice’s mother found the 16-year-old’s body in a bathtub of their townhome in March, 2004.
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“He left her to drown in a pool of her own blood,” DuPage County Assistant State’s Attorney Michael Pawl said during closing arguments Tuesday.
Lovejoy, 44, formerly of Naperville, was sentenced to death in 2006, but the appellate court overturned the case amid confusion about key blood evidence.
Defense attorneys once again attacked the scientific evidence in closing arguments.
The same jurors will now have to determine if Lovejoy is eligible for the death penalty.
Jury selection began last month on the same day the Illinois Senate passed a bill eliminating the death penalty. The bill needs Gov. Pat Quinn’s signature to become law. It’s unclear how the case would be affected if he signs it during the trial.