Man faces third trial for same crime

Stanley Liggins is back in court for the death of Jennifer Lewis in 1990

DAVENPORT, Iowa. - A man convicted twice of killing a young girl went back to court as he gets ready to face trial number three for the same crime.

A pre-trial hearing was held for Stanley Liggins Monday.

The Rock Island man was sentenced to life in prison two times for killing Jennifer Lewis.

Now, he's getting a third chance to clear his name. 

"Sometimes it seems like it was 27 years ago. Now, it kind of seems like it was last week," said Mary Maxwell. 

Maxwell is Jennifer Lewis' godmother.

Jennifer disappeared from her rock island neighborhood in 1990.

Her body was later found in near a davenport school.

Scott Reeder worked for the quad city times that day, and was one of the first on the scene.

"I was the night cop reporter and I got dispatched to what was supposed to be a small fire at a school playground, and instead when I got there, instead of it being a burning trash fire, it turned out to be a child who had been doused in gasoline. It was the most horrific thing I've ever seen in my life," said Reeder.

Stanley Liggins was sentenced to life in prison twice for Jennifer's death.

Both convictions were tossed out.

The Iowa Appeals Court ordered a new trial. 

Maxwell says it doesn't get any easier coming back to court.

"It is frustrating. It's hard to kind of get that final sense of closure, but at the same time, I rather be at a third trial than him walking the streets. It is difficult. It's very difficult. It's been over half my life," said Maxwell. 

Since the murder happened 27 years ago, it's made it hard for the court to decide which evidence should be used during the trial. 

The defense also argues some police reports were withheld, and some witnesses weren't properly questioned.

"The bottom line is Ms. Atkinson's testimony is not reliable. Our ability to cross examine her was crippled by the state's failure to disclose evidence that they were required to," said Scott County Attorney Mike Walton. 

"Attorney Toby made a strategic decision not to cross examine Mr. Eston," said Liggins' Attorney Derek Jones. 

Reeder says it's going to be hard for the prosecution to prove Liggins did it. 

"There wasn't any eye witnesses that saw who killed Jennifer. It's very much an argument of proximity. Stanley Liggins was somebody who had knew the family and was seen near her that night," said Reeder. 

The jury trial is set for May 22nd.

Liggins will be back in court Tuesday. 

The court will consider moving the trial outside of Scott county for a change of venue hearing at 9 AM.


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