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Jury sent home without decision

Jury sent home without decision

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BLOOMINGTON — The jury in the Maurice LaGrone Jr. triple-murder case appears to be involved in a lengthy deliberation process, according to LaGrone’s defense attorney.

“I think we can say this is an absolutely wonderful thing that the jury takes their job and responsibility as seriously as the lawyers and police did in this case,” Jeff Justice said.

LaGrone and his former girlfriend, Amanda Hamm, both 30, are charged with nine counts of first-degree murder each. The state claims the couple intentionally drowned Hamm’s three children on Sept. 2, 2003, by sinking her car off a boat ramp in Clinton Lake.

The jury was handed the case shortly after 2 p.m. Thursday after about four weeks of testimony. Deliberations will resume Monday morning.

The prosecution, meanwhile, expressed confidence in the case.

Justice said the panel ended its deliberations Friday afternoon with a request to listen to the 911 call Hamm made to dispatchers after the car went into the water. He said the jury listened to the recording 15 to 20 times.

In addition to the 911 recording, the jury has asked for duct tape, markers and highlighters, Justice said.

The jury appeared to be methodically examining the testimony of the 78 witnesses who testified for the defense and prosecution, he said.

“We’re fairly certain that they have simply put up a list of witnesses and are going through the witnesses as we presented them,” Justice said.

Special prosecutor Ed Parkinson told reporters before lunch that he was not surprised that the panel of seven women and five men was entering its second day deliberations.

“I’m sure it’s going to take a while; there’s a lot of evidence. This is a circumstantial case, but I think that we’ve proven murder,” Parkinson said.

Several family members waited with reporters in the hallway outside the courtroom at the McLean County Law and Justice Center, Bloomington.

Ann Powers, Hamm’s mother, commented on the wait.

“It’s nerve-racking,” she said. “I’m anxious for the verdict, but yet I’m scared.”

Hamm’s mother has said she believes the car went into the lake by accident and her daughter and LaGrone are innocent of the murder counts.

No date has been set for Hamm’s trial.

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