Stanley Liggins could get third trial

2013-11-06T17:30:00Z 2013-11-07T13:25:12Z Stanley Liggins could get third trialBarb Ickes bickes@qctimes.com The Quad-City Times

The promise made to child murder victim Jennifer Ann Lewis still stands: No matter how many times Stanley Liggins appeals, Mary Maxwell-Rockwell will be there.

Liggins, now 51, has twice been convicted in the 9-year-old Rock Island girl's murder. Jennifer's smoldering body was found in a garbage bag in the schoolyard at Jefferson Elementary, Davenport, in 1990. She had been sexually assaulted and strangled.

After a Scott County jury found him guilty of the murder in 1993, the Iowa Supreme Court overturned the conviction on a technicality. He was again found guilty in a change-of-venue trial in Dubuque in 1995. On Wednesday, the Iowa Court of Appeals reversed the second conviction.

"I guess, any time you hear there's a chance ... there's that little shadow of a doubt where you know this could happen," Mary Maxwell-Rockwell said of the reversal Wednesday. She is a family friend who sat through both trials on behalf of Jennifer's parents, Sheri and Joe Glen, who were not permitted in the courtroom. "If this goes to court five more times, I'll go five more times.

"I made the promise to Jennifer the day she died that I would see this through. If Liggins wants to drag it out another 30 years, I'll be there — from start to finish.

"I am not ever going to let Liggins think for one minute that little girl's life means any less today than it did the day he took it. He will not do this to another child."

The appellate judges did not rule on whether there was sufficient evidence to convict Liggins. Their ruling addressed his claims the state, meaning Scott County prosecutors, suppressed evidence that could have helped clear him.

In a review of the second trial, a special investigator discovered 77 police reports that were not shared with the defense. It also was discovered that one of the state's "crucial" witnesses was a paid police informant, a fact that should have been disclosed to Liggins' attorney. The appellate court ruled the withholding of the reports and the paid-informant status of the witness amounts to suppression of evidence, undermining their confidence in the verdict.

"While we respect the Court of Appeals' decision, we intend to ask the Iowa Supreme Court to review the decision," said Geoff Greenwood, spokesman for the Iowa Attorney General's office, which is handling the appeal.

Scott County Attorney Mike Walton was out of town Wednesday and said he could not comment on the case until he had an opportunity to read the ruling.

Meanwhile, Liggins' attorney, Kent Simmons, praised the appellate court's ruling.

"There are hundreds, and probably thousands, of innocent people sitting in prison all over this country because of police misconduct," he said. "Stan Liggins is one of them. He is innocent. He has suffered more than enough, and he deserves to be released."

In 2010, on the 20th anniversary of Jennifer's murder, former Scott County Attorney Bill Davis, who prosecuted Liggins, said, "It is truly one of the saddest cases I tried in 28-plus years. It marks you. I have put several people in prison for the rest of their lives, and I can’t tell you their names.

“But I sure as hell can tell you who Stanley Liggins is and what he did.”

Maxwell-Rockwell said many people have been scarred by Jennifer's murder but said she prefers the ongoing grief and outrage over any chance the 9-year-old will be forgotten.

"I went up last night (Tuesday) and put flowers on her grave," she said. "I told her how beautiful she was and told her we'll keep fighting."

Copyright 2015 The Quad-City Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(13) Comments

  1. noellebruce
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    noellebruce - May 28, 2014 10:11 pm
    Jennifer was my childhood best friend for 20 some years her death has haunted me . I've dealt with nightmares all these years. What if he isn't the killer. Idk I tried for years to visit him in prison never could.
  2. Lisa True
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    Lisa True - December 03, 2013 8:13 pm
    Omg well I remember the man that sat in my parents living room and said the state offered a plea deal when he was facing several years in prison time served to lie and say Mr.liggins confessed to him,I also remember a family member who Jennifer spent the night with months before her murder and was terrified to go home because she was scared to death of her stepfather...tarts all I know
  3. ChamPain
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    ChamPain - November 07, 2013 8:30 am
    Why havent his fellow inmates gutted this animal yet?
  4. ExQC911
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    ExQC911 - November 06, 2013 11:52 pm
    I agree with most of what you said except for the comment about police misconduct. The police in this case turned everything over to the County Attorney. It is their job to inform the defence of all the evidence, not the police. Sounds like County Attorney misconduct not police.
  5. finch
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    finch - November 06, 2013 7:32 pm
    You're clueless. The people involved in this case didn't deal with the witness as an informant. Had they done so, they would have discussed it. It would be silly to keep that secret when it wouldn't have made a difference in the case.

    The guy was convicted twice, by two juries. Appeal was denied at the state and federal level. The man raped and killed an innocent little girl. How do you support that???
  6. iowalittledog
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    iowalittledog - November 06, 2013 7:25 pm
    One more thing if I may? How come there is no accountability from the County Attorney Office. There is no way you can convince me that a State Attorney didn't know he should turn over ALL Police Report. Again not commenting on if he is guilty or not just the legal system. Thanks God we have the Appeals Courts to overlook the District Courts. By the way does anyone know who was the first Defense Attorney who represented the defendant. Also didn't Bill Davis leave office over misconduct or dishonesty
  7. GEM
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    GEM - November 06, 2013 7:05 pm
    Her body was found at Jefferson, not Jackson.
    And there's no way he should be given another trial. He should rot in jail.
  8. iowalittledog
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    iowalittledog - November 06, 2013 6:50 pm
    Not addressing weather he is guilty or innocent. Lets discuss the police misconduct, holding back any evidence is wrong. There are rules in a courtroom and if they are violated then the appeal court has a legal duty to make sure the state didn't have an un-fair advantage at trial. The police often use confidential informants and both the defense and the jury should know if a witness was a PAID INFORMANT or if a witness is working off other criminal charges. Sorry to wake some of you up with this but PAID INFORMANTS (often lie) to get the police what they want just so that the PAID INFORMANT can go free. When you buy information from the devil what can you expect? The truth? Most confidential informant(s) are 'working off a criminal charge and that itself is enough reason to lie on the witness stand. The police and the State Attorney don't have a right to hold evidence, even if it favors the defendant. Now if you accept the first two verdicts then accept the higher courts ruling and let thing play out.
  9. Big Daddy 5150
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    Big Daddy 5150 - November 06, 2013 6:34 pm
    He should DIE!!!! Our judicial system is a JOKE!!! He is guilty, he should die
  10. POPSCORDOVA
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    POPSCORDOVA - November 06, 2013 5:44 pm
    let him out he wont live 24 hours somebody will get him
  11. Had it
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    Had it - November 06, 2013 5:40 pm
    77 police reports from the defense? what does that mean? this guy soooo brutally raped this little angel that her insides fell outside..then lit her on fire...and dumped her...what's the question? and, what is to report 77 times? this is a sorry excuse for human life and this animal should rot in prison and let the victim and her family find peace once and for all. Quite frankly, i'm embarrassed to admit, that I'm surprised the men he's holed up with have let him live to tell this tale. Shame on him.
  12. Acts25_16
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    Acts25_16 - November 06, 2013 1:51 pm
    IF this man is innocent, that would mean that the step-father or someone else is guilty. And that would not look good for the judicial system.
  13. just curious
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    just curious - November 06, 2013 12:41 pm
    Oh my golly, enough is enough. Let's quit wasting tax dollars on stupid stuff. Take the law books out of prisons so they cannot comb over every word to find some fluke that might get them yet another trial.
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