CLINTON - Some Clinton residents expressed happiness Wednesday with the murder conviction of Maurice LaGrone Jr. in the death of his former girlfriend's three children.
"I don't have any use for anybody who would hurt kids, especially intentionally," said Marvin Staton, co-owner of K & M's The Yak Shak, a diner in downtown Clinton.
Staton said he was worried LaGrone would be exonerated after reading about the jury's request to see video of the defense's re-enactment of the incident that killed the three children.
And he said other reports suggested conflicting testimony.
Leonard Spurling and Showanda Polite, both of nearby Kenney, ate breakfast in K & M's Wednesday morning as they gave different opinions on the conviction.
"I think he is getting what he deserved because he could have gotten the kids out of the car if he would've broken a window," Spurling said.
Polite, who was born and raised in the Clinton area, said she was sad about the children's deaths, and she did not know enough about the case to judge LaGrone.
"I don't know how I would have reacted in a situation like that, and I hope I never get into that situation," Polite said. "I just feel very sorry for the family and for the kids."
Spurling said he was not in favor of the death penalty for LaGrone, who later that morning was found ineligible for the death penalty and sentenced to life in prison.
"I think he ought to live it out and have to think about it all the time," Spurling said.
Staton said most people he talked to were happy with the conviction, as did John Baker, owner of Grimsley's Flowers. The flower shop is along the same downtown square.
Baker said he did not continuously follow media reports about the trial. But he said, "The jury found him to be guilty, and that's good enough for me."
Before the McLean County jury ruled out the death penalty, Baker said he thought it was probably appropriate to use capital punishment in LaGrone's case.
Baker said constant media coverage has brought added attention to Clinton, and it is "probably not the best thing for the community."
Mike Whitney, reached as he walked into a downtown store, said he was sure the jurors put great effort into examining and deliberating over the evidence, and they likely knew what they were doing before delivering their verdict.
He also said he was glad he was not in their position.
Most people did not mention LaGrone's race, but the fact he is black did affect some people's opinions.
Two men in a pickup truck and a third nearby declined to comment when approached, but they yelled racial epithets a few moments later and one said LaGrone should be hanged.
Another man in a nearby bar used the same epithet. Yet another man in a nearby shop said he was ashamed when people cheered and shouted racial epithets in a bar after the guilty verdict was announced Tuesday night.
The three children he was convicted of drowning were white.