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Cops and Courts

Sides rest in Elliott Kirkland trial; closing arguments scheduled today


ELYRIA — Elliott Kirkland’s defense attorney tried to poke holes in the investigation conducted by Lorain police in connection with the shooting death of Jimmie Holland Jr. before both sides rested.

Tuesday was the fourth and final day of testimony in the capital murder trial of Kirkland, 28, of Lorain, who prosecutors say shot Holland three times early Aug. 29, 2016, and left him to bleed to death. Kirkland faces aggravated murder charges and, if convicted, could be sentenced to death.

Lorain police Sgt. Buddy Sivert, the lead detective on the case, resumed his testimony, which began Thursday, with Assistant County Prosecutor Laura Dezort asking a few questions to wrap up the direct examination. After that, defense attorney Kenneth Lieux began questioning Sivert on several issues pertaining to the investigation into Holland’s death.

Testimony has said that Kirkland, Mark Sanchez, Jasmine Schafer and Latrice Thomas went to the Ninth Street apartment with the intention of robbing Holland, who was known as a drug dealer who had a large sum of cash on him.

Sanchez testified that he and Kirkland entered Holland’s apartment while the victim was sleeping. When Holland woke up, he and Kirkland struggled and Kirkland shot Holland multiple times, took a bag full of cash and ran from the apartment, Sanchez testified.

Sanchez and Schafer were indicted on aggravated murder and murder charges, respectively, while Thomas charged with obstructing justice for her alleged role in the killing.

Sanchez, Schafer and Thomas all reached plea agreements with prosecutors that dropped the counts of aggravated murder and murder from their indictments in exchange for their testimony against Kirkland.

While Sanchez and Schafer each testified during the trial, the state did not call Thomas to the stand.

During cross-examination of Sivert, Lieux questioned why Kirkland was the only one facing murder charges now when the others had been involved and possibly complicit in the killing. He also pointed out that all four had lied to police many times during the investigation.

Kirkland’s defense team also has questioned why Kirkland’s three co-defendants suddenly are believable when they’ve lied previously.

Sivert also was asked why no blood evidence was collected from the scene of Holland’s death, why gunshot residue tests were not administered to any of the co-defendants and why certain items were not sent to the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation for analysis.

After the testimony of Sivert, the state rested its case. The defense also rested its case without calling a witness.

Closing arguments in the trial are scheduled to take place this morning.

Contact Scott Mahoney at (440) 329-7146 or Follow him on Twitter @SMahoneyCT.

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