Man charged in East Moline fatal stabbing can represent himself, judge rules Tuesday
(KWQC) - A man charged in the stabbing death of an East Moline man in December will be allowed to represent himself, a Rock Island County judge ruled Tuesday.
Kerry V. Clark, 60, opted to be his own attorney after Judge Norma Kauzlarich denied his request to appoint him an attorney from Chicago or an attorney from out of state. Clark said Tuesday he would be prejudiced if he is represented by a local attorney.
Clark is charged with first-degree murder and possession of a stolen motor vehicle. He has pleaded not guilty.
His co-defendant, Precious N. Sims, 21, is also facing the same charges.
On Tuesday, Kauzlarich ruled that there was enough probable cause for Clark’s case to move forward to trial after listening to East Moline Police Detective Logan Wolfe’s testimony.
According to Wolfe’s testimony Tuesday:
Officers were called at 8:03 a.m. to a home in the 800 block of Avenue of the Cities for an assist ambulance call.
Rodney J. Griffin, 64, the homeowner, was found by a co-worker who had come to check on him when he did not show up for work that morning.
Griffin was found just inside the front door with apparent stab wounds on his body. Officers noted there was a large amount of blood and the home appeared to be in disarray.
Detectives interviewed Griffin’s family and learned that he lived alone and did not have many friends or associates. They also told detectives he always kept the doors locked and, if there was no forced entry into the home, he must have known the suspect or suspects or at least opened the door for them.
Detectives also learned Griffin’s vehicle was missing. Police put out a “be on the lookout” (BOLO) alert; the car was later found in Davenport. Clark and Sims were inside.
Clark, when interviewed by East Moline police, did not give a statement and requested an attorney. Officers noted he had lacerations on both index fingers.
Sims told police she and Clark were living at the Humility of Mary Shelter in Davenport and that she and Griffin knew each other.
Sims said on the night of Dec. 17, she and Clark rode a city bus to Griffin’s home to steal money from him.
Sims told police she knocked on the door and asked if she could come in. Sims said Griffin told her no because she had Clark with her.
She told police Griffin tried to close the door, but Clark forced it open, and he and Sims went inside. Clark and Griffin began to fight, and Sims said Clark told her to get him a knife.
She said she got two steak knives from the kitchen and gave one to Clark before stabbing Griffin in the back. Sims said this gave Clark then began to stab him repeatedly and him in the head several times with a wooden board broken from a piece of furniture during the struggle.
Sims told police she and Clark demanded money, and Griffin said he would give it to them, but they needed to go to a bank. She said Griffin subsequently died.
Sims estimated Clark stabbed Griffin approximately 20 times in the chest and other areas.
She said Clark tried to clean up with bleach and another cleaner while she found Griffin’s car keys in his pocket and $5 in his wallet.
Sims said she went to the garage to start the car, and when she came back, Clark was gone. She told police she drove Griffin’s car to a liquor store in Davenport and bought alcohol with the money she took from him.
Sims said she returned to the shelter the next morning and had contact with Clark, who told her police had found Griffin and that they needed to ditch his car.
They were taken into custody while trying to get rid of it, she told police.
During the interview, Sims said she was wearing the same clothes she was wearing the night before, except for a coat that she left at the shelter. She said there was blood on the sleeve of the coat.
Detectives searched the shelter and located the coat in her living area, as well as several clothing items that had possible blood and bleach stains on them in Clark’s living area.
Police also collected video surveillance from various businesses, including MetroLink, which showed the pair arriving in East Moline via bus and Clark later riding the bus to Rock Island alone.
An autopsy performed on Griffin found that he died of multiple stab wounds. The trauma to his head also caused a skull fracture, Wolfe testified.
Clark will be back in court on Jan. 29 for a pretrial conference. A trial is tentatively scheduled for Feb. 16.
Sims’ preliminary hearing also was scheduled for Tuesday, but the hearing was delayed until a judge can hear her motion objecting to media cameras in the courtroom on Jan. 21.
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