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Article updated: 6/16/2013 4:07 PM

Man serving life sentence loses appeal in 2003 Elgin murder

By Harry Hitzeman

A 41-year-old man recently lost an appeal of his conviction for an Elgin slaying more than a decade ago.

Darren Denson, formerly of Chicago, is serving a life sentence at the Statesville Correctional Center for the Feb. 10, 2003, murder of 32-year-old Kyle Juggins.

During the trial, prosecutors argued that Denson and others went to Juggins' apartment in hopes of robbing him of $30,000. Authorities said Denson believed a drug dealer who was known to carry large quantities of cash was in Juggins' apartment.

A jury in April 2011 found that Denson fatally stabbed Juggins in the heart in a bed the victim shared with his girlfriend and their then 15-month-old son. No drugs or large amounts of money were found.

Denson's first trial in November 2010 was a declared mistrial after a jury was deadlocked, but it took just three hours to convict him the second time around.

Denson appealed and asked for a new trial, arguing that hearsay statements were improperly admitted into trial and that his defense attorney was ineffective.

The appellate panel in its opinion, disagreed, ruling that the hearsay testimony -- from a co-defendant and a co-defendant's sister -- were allowed under the co-conspirator exception to the hearsay rule.

"A statement is not hearsay if it is offered against a party and was made by the party's co-conspirator during the course and in furtherance of the conspiracy," the appellate court ruled. "The statements were not idle recaps of the night's events."

Denson also argued that he received ineffective assistance of counsel because his attorney didn't object to other testimony, but the panel shot down that argument and concluded it didn't impact the jury's verdict.

"To succeed on a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel, a defendant must establish both that counsel's representation was deficient and that the defendant was substantially prejudiced by the deficient performance," the court wrote. "A lack of substantial prejudice is fatal to a claim of ineffective assistance."

Foundation offers community grants:

The Kane County Bar Foundation is accepting grants from not-for-profit organizations that are looking to help residents with their legal needs.

Since 1996, the foundation has offered grants to encourage and reward groups that develop new and innovative programs.

Last year, the foundation awarded four grants totaling $12,500.

Applications are due July 1 and may be found on the Kane County Bar Association website or by emailing the Foundation's Executive Director Jan Wade at director@kanecountybar.org.

hhitzeman@dailyherald.com

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