EDWARDSVILLE — Kevin Reid will likely spend the rest of his life in prison, after a Madison County jury convicted him Thursday of killing 4-year-old Cermen "C.J." Toney and Anquiaette Parker in 2005.
The jury found Reid guilty of two counts of first-degree murder, the murder of Parker's unborn baby and of concealing homicidal deaths. Madison County Circuit Judge James Hackett ordered a pre-sentencing investigation, but with two first-degree murder convictions, there is only one sentence in Illinois law: life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Earlier Thursday, prosecutors focused closing arguments on the grisly details of the deaths of C.J. and Parker's unborn child as much as on the death of the woman known as "Tweety," as closing arguments finished the murder trial of Reid.
Reid, 58, was convicted of killing Parker, who was pregnant at the time, and the young cousin she was babysitting, then hiding their bodies in a cistern near his house. Parker and C.J. disappeared on Nov. 6, 2005, and their bodies were found in the cistern by a crew clearing brush in early 2008.
"It started as a drug deal, one of probably hundreds that (Parker) executed in State Park," said prosecutor Jennifer Vucich. "Why was this one different? We don't know."
Vucich's closing focused on C.J., who she said must have witnessed Reid stabbing Parker 23 times, 14 times in her head. Then C.J. was stabbed once in the side, which Vucich said meant a slower death. She displayed a picture of C.J. from his fourth and last birthday party.
She reminded them that forensic investigators found fingernail-like crescent marks on duct tape found with the bodies. "Someone was trying to get out of their duct tape, and I suspect it wasn't the one who was stabbed 23 times," Vucich said. "He was thrown away as trash, and for 872 days, his mom didn't know where he was or what happened to him."
Defense attorney John Rekowski focused on the details of the 33 prosecution witnesses' testimony, especially that of jailhouse informant Michael Scott. "I wouldn't trust this guy with my wallet, much less the testimony of this case," Rekowski said. "There is no reason to stink up a courtroom with the likes and testimony of a Michael Scott ... (Reid) was in solitary for three years, withstood four sessions with a trained interrogator, and the first day (out of solitary) he confessed everything (to Scott)? You cannot convict unless you believe Michael Scott, and Michael Scott is just not believable."
Rekowski said he believes Reid's DNA may have been transferred around the bloodstained car accidentally by police officers who were searching it.
"This is a terrible crime," he said. "But it is impossible, and it is not his responsibility... for Kevin to prove who did it. He doesn't have to solve the crime for you to bring in a verdict of not guilty."
Rekowski accused prosecutors of "playing a shell game" with the facts of the case, repeatedly saying, "Shame on them."
But Vucich shouted in her redirect, calling Rekowski's statements "crap."
"(Reid's) blood was on that trunk switch," she reiterated. "Contesting DNA? That would be a great argument if this was 1985. This is 2014. This is proven science."
The jury retired to deliberate the case about 11 a.m. and returned with a verdict about six hours later. Family members were overcome with emotion as the verdict was read and burst into shouts and applause the moment court was adjourned. C.J.'s mother, Latoya Coleman, was sobbing with her family's arms around her, waving her fist in the air.
"After so many years of not knowing, of the sadness and heartbreak, we finally have justice for a young woman and her unborn child, and a four-year-old child," said Madison County State's Attorney Tom Gibbons. He thanked the jury for "coming to a true and just verdict."
Reid will remain in the custody of the Madison County Jail until sentencing, which is expected in 6-8 weeks.
Contact reporter Elizabeth Donald at firstname.lastname@example.org or 618-239-2507.