WATERLOO (AP) — In his fourth trial, an Iowa jury on Tuesday convicted a man in the 1990 killing of a 9-year-old Illinois girl whose body was found on fire in Davenport.
Jurors found Stanley Liggins, 57, guilty of first-degree murder in the death of Jennifer Ann Lewis, according to the Quad-City Times . The Rock Island, Illinois, girl’s body was found the night of Sept. 17, 1990, in a field near a Davenport elementary school. She had been sexually abused and strangled, and her body was then doused with gasoline and set aflame.
Liggins has been twice convicted of murder, in 1993 and 1995, but the verdicts were overturned. His last trial ended in a mistrial .
When Judge Marlita Greve read the verdict, Jennifer’s mother, Sheri McCormick, exclaimed, “Thank God.” McCormick and Lewis’ godmother, Mary Maxwell-Rockwell, hugged Scott County prosecutors Mike Walton and Julie Walton after the jurors left the courtroom.
“It was a very hard-fought case over several years,” Walton said. “Had a lot of support. Police department stuck in there, sheriff’s department, all the agencies that were involved. We had a lot of support.”
Liggins’ attorneys declined to comment.
After the girl’s killing, Liggins quickly became a suspect. He knew Lewis’ mother, and witnesses said they saw him talking with the girl. Liggins has long maintained his innocence, and his lawyers argued there was reasonable doubt, in part given a lack of forensic evidence.
The fourth trial was moved to Black Hawk County because of pretrial publicity.
Liggins will be sentenced May 30. First-degree murder in Iowa carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.