Jury returns guilty verdicts in Layla Jones murder trial
SAGINAW, MI (WNEM) -
Following six hours of deliberation, a jury has returned a verdict against two men accused of killing a six-year-old girl.
Michael Lawrence and Rico Saldana were both found guilty of first-degree premeditated murder in the slaying of six-year-old Layla Jones, who was in town visiting from Wisconsin. Prosecutors say the two shot the young girl in a drive by shooting in Saginaw during the summer of 2012. Judge Darnell Jackson is presiding over the case.
Jones' family were in tears listening to the verdict as it was read back by the jurors.
Both men declined to testify during the trial.
Before jury selection in the trial could start, Judge Jackson addressed a motion by Lawrence's attorney William White to move the trial to another venue.
White states "excessive coverage" of Michael Lawrence in both this trial and his murder case involving the killing of his former girlfriend, Angelica Olivarez as a reason that his client would not be able to get a fair trial.
Saldana's attorney, Jim Piazza, concurred but Judge Jackson disagreed – citing the Ken Bleuw trial at evidence that defendants in a high profile case can still get a fair trial.
In a separate motion, White asked that the trials be separated because Lawrence and Saldana had two very different accounts of what happened on the day Jones was shot and killed.
Prosecutors quickly pointed out that neither defendant planned to testify and point the finger at anyone else - so therefore White's motion was a moot point. The judge did not grant White's motion.
In July 2013, another man, JeVonne Greer, was convicted on 18 felony counts including murder, in the shooting death of Layla. He will spend the rest of his life behind bars.
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Wednesday, July 30 2014 5:57 AM EDT2014-07-30 09:57:07 GMT
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