Stanley Liggins' new trial slated Oct. 27

Posted Online: April 04, 2014, 5:27 pm
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By Dawn Neuses,
DAVENPORT -- Stanley Liggins is set to stand trial a third time for the murder of 9-year-old Jennifer Lewis more than 24 years after her body was found in Davenport.

An Oct. 27 trial date was announced Friday during a pretrial conference at the Scott County District Courthouse. Hearings are scheduled for June 11 on two motions requested by Chief State Public Defender Phil Ramirez.

The motion to produce would require the Scott County Attorney's office to make evidence available. The second motion requests certain evidence be excluded.

Mary Maxwell-Rockwell, who identified herself as Jennifer's godmother, attended the conference but declined to comment.

Mr. Liggins was convicted of first-degree murder in the Sept. 17, 1990, death of Jennifer, who disappeared from a store in her Rock Island neighborhood. She had been raped and strangled, her body wrapped in a plastic bag, doused with gasoline and set on fire near a Davenport elementary school.

A Scott County jury first convicted Mr. Liggins in 1993, but the Iowa Supreme Court overturned the verdict. A second jury in Dubuque County convicted him again in 1995, and an appeal of that conviction was denied the next year.

Through a process known as post-conviction relief, which allows those convicted of a crime to ask the court to review their case, Mr. Liggins filed two applications for review. The first appeal was denied, a decision later affirmed by the appeals court in 2000.

The second appeal raised a new claim alleging that a key witness used by prosecutors was a paid Davenport police informant and prosecutors had failed to disclose that, and it only surfaced during a 2002 appeal hearing.

A district court judge again concluded it wouldn't have changed the outcome of the trials.

The appeals court, however, said in a Nov. 6, 2013, opinion, that failure of the state prosecutors to reveal the paid informant status of a key witness was significant and undisclosed evidence was material to the case.

The court vacated Mr. Liggins' conviction and ordered a new trial. He has remained in custody pending the new trial.


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