A Scott County judge has postponed a July 5 retrial of Davenport murder defendant Stanley C. Liggins, due to his attorney’s illness.

Chief Judge Marlita Greve also postponed a three-day hearing on pretrial hearings that was slated to begin May 25, according to an order filed May 10.

Liggins, 54, will be back in court June 24. A new trial date has not yet been set. 

He is charged with first-degree murder, willful injury causing serious injury, first-degree sexual abuse, first-degree kidnapping and first-degree arson.

Prosecutors say Liggins strangled Jennifer Ann Lewis, 9, of Rock Island, and burned her remains on a Davenport school playground in 1990.

Liggins was tried twice in the girl's death in the 1990s, once in Scott County and the second in Dubuque after he was granted a change of venue.

He was convicted in both trials and sentenced to life in prison. The Iowa Supreme Court overturned the first conviction on a technicality. On Nov. 6, 2013, the Iowa Court of Appeals reversed the second conviction, and the Supreme Court decided not to hear the case.

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Assistant State Public Defender Derek Jones filed a motion May 5 asking the judge to postpone the trial. Jones wrote in his motion that first-chair attorney, Chief Public Defender Phil Ramirez, has been in the hospital since April 29 and that it is unclear when he can return to work.

Jones, who has assumed supervisory duties of the public defender’s office, wrote in his motion that he will not have sufficient time to take over first-chair responsibilities and prepare for a July 5 trial. 

Assuming Ramirez is unable to return to try the case, another attorney will need to take over as second-chair, Jones wrote.

“The discovery and investigative material in this case are unusually extensive, and a new second-chair attorney cannot realistically be prepared to assist with the trial of this case by the current date,” Jones wrote.

Jones further wrote that Liggins, who waived his right to a speedy trial, did not object to postponing the trial.

Liggins’ retrial is slated to last three weeks. 

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