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BLOOMINGTON — After months of delaying a decision, McLean County State’s Attorney Bill Yoder said Thursday he will not seek the death penalty against a Bloomington man accused of killing two women more than a year ago.

Yoder said the families of Normal residents Lorraine Fields, 41, and La Keisha Tyus, 26, helped persuade him against asking for the death sentence before Guider goes to trial this summer for their stabbing deaths.

"The families asked me not to seek the death penalty. That combined with everything else weighed in my decision," Yoder said following a pre-trial hearing Thursday. "It was a close call. That’s why it’s taken so long."

Prosecutors say Guider stabbed Fields and Tyus to death Dec. 18, 2004 at his home in the 500 block of West Front Street, Bloomington. Their bodies were found the next day in a car in a nearby parking lot.

Guider had been eligible for the death penalty because he’s accused of killing multiple victims. Yoder said the families originally disagreed about whether he should seek death, but the Tyuses changed their stance last week.

Betty Fields, Lorraine Fields’ mother, said she had been praying to God for months in hopes that Yoder would decide not to seek the death penalty.

"I’m so glad he reconsidered. I had been praying about that a lot," Betty Fields said. "Death is not a pretty thing. I don’t care if you do it legally or illegally. I wouldn’t want that on my conscious."

Besides the death penalty issue, Yoder and Assistant Public Defender Jim Tusek agreed to set a July 17 trial date during Thursday’s pre-trial hearing before Judge Ronald Dozier. Yoder said the trial would take about a week.

Yoder and Tusek had been in talks several months ago about a deal that would have allowed Guider to plead guilty to the murders to avoid the death penalty.

For more on this story, see Friday's Pantagraph.

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