The verdict is just in - we will have more photos and details as information is available. Read previous reporting here.
ELYRIA — Elliott Kirkland’s fate is now in the hands of the jury.
Closing arguments in the trial of Kirkland, 28, of Lorain, took place Wednesday morning and then early in the afternoon, the jury began its deliberations. About 4 p.m., the jury was sent home and instructed to return this morning.
Kirkland is accused of shooting Jimmie Holland Jr. three times early Aug. 29, 2016, and leaving him to bleed to death. Kirkland faces aggravated murder charges and, if convicted, could be sentenced to 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.
Defense attorney Kenneth Lieux once again questioned the credibility of the testimony of Sanchez and Schafer during his closing argument.
“They changed their stories. Why? To get out of life sentence,” Lieux said. “Sanchez went from life in prison to 14 years, and Jasmine went from a life sentence to 11 years. That’s the ultimate incentive to lie.
“(Assistant County Prosecutor Tony) Cillo said they were trustworthy and you can believe them now. You can believe them now when they’ve made this change in their testimony to get a benefit. You can put credibility on that. That’s what they want you to hang your hat on.”
During the trial, Kirkland’s defense team argued it was Sanchez who shot Holland. During his closing argument, Lieux said Sanchez had “flipped the script” on what had really happened and pinned the murder on Kirkland.
Assistant County Prosecutor Laura Dezort said the state wasn’t just asking jury to take Sanchez and Schafer’s word.
“The defense wants you to speculate on what happened instead of focusing on the evidence that you actually do have,” Dezort said. “The evidence that you actually do have, the evidence that you heard testimony about, that you saw, that you heard, proves beyond a reasonable doubt that man, Elliott Kirkland, is the one that pulled the trigger and is the one who killed Jimmie Holland and left him bleeding to death on the floor of his bedroom.”
Lieux also continued his attack of the investigation Lorain police conducted into Holland’s death. As he did Tuesday, Lieux pointed out that police didn’t collect any blood evidence at the scene, didn’t conduct gunshot residue tests on the victim or any of the co-defendants in the case and he also questioned why certain items in Holland’s apartment weren’t collected and submitted for analysis.
Cillo defended the Police Department and the lead detective on the case, Sgt. Buddy Sivert.
“You can criticize (Sgt. Sivert), as attorney Lieux tried to do — everything that could have been collected or not collected,” Cillo said. “You can do that in every case, no matter how much you collect, you can suggest there was more to do. The reality is, they did plenty.”
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