A 41-year-old man convicted a decade ago of murdering of an Elgin drug dealer made his case for a new trial Wednesday, arguing that hearsay statements from others involved in the crime were improperly admitted into court.
Darren Denson, formerly of Chicago, is serving a life prison sentence for the February 2003 murder of Kyle Juggins, 32, who was stabbed and shot in a west side apartment in front of his girlfriend and 15-month-old infant son.
Prosecutors argued that Denson and others planned to rob Juggins because they thought he was holding on to $30,000. Juggins fired a shot at his intruders, but missed, and no money was found.
Denson also is serving a 50-year prison sentence for a murder in Milwaukee.
In the Elgin case, a mistrial was declared in November 2010 when a Kane County jury was 11-1 in favor of his acquittal. Prosecutors tried Denson again the following spring, and a different jury took three hours to convict him.
Christopher McCoy, an assistant appellate defender, argued to an appellate court panel Wednesday in Elgin that hearsay statements from other conspirators should have been allowed only during the second trial if the statements forwarded the conspiracy itself.
McCoy said testimony from the getaway driver Kineta Bell that two other men said Juggins was killed instead of just being robbed should not have been allowed and could have prejudiced the jury against Denson.
"They were retelling the event. It wasn't a simple shouting that 'Juggins is dead,'" McCoy argued, asking that Denson's guilty verdict be overturned and a new trial ordered. "It's not a minor error. The evidence here was extremely prejudiced."
Scott Jacobson of the Illinois Appellate Prosecutors office argued that any statement from a conspirator is admissible because it is inherently part of the conspiracy.
"(McCoy's) only argument is that the first trial turned out differently," Jacobson said. "The evidence against the defendant was overwhelming. This crime was extremely violent."
The appellate court panel took the matter under advisement and, as customary, did not give a time frame as to when a ruling would be made.