The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Local News

April 30, 2014

Harris found guilty in triple murder

DANVILLE — The last suspect in the 2007 shooting death of three people drew to a close Tuesday with the conviction of the final suspect in the case.

Jurors in the case against 29-year-old Jerome Harris were dismissed from the Vermilion County Circuit courtroom at 12:30 p.m. Tuesday and took just under four hours to return with a guilty verdict on the numerous counts of first-degree murder.

Vermilion County Circuit Court proceedings began last week in the Harris trial. He was the final suspect charged in connection with the 2007 killing. He faced 15 counts of first-degree murder — five counts per victim — in the triple homicide deaths of 30-year-old Rodney Pepper, 21-year-old TaBreyon McCullough and 19-year-old Madisen Leverenz.

Opening statements were presented April 23, followed by a state case that did not rest until Monday. Closing arguments were conducted Tuesday morning.

Vermilion County State’s Attorney Randy Brinegar said Harris was charged with being the gunman who shot and killed McCullough and Leverenz.

Under the charges against him, it is mandatory that Harris receive life in the Illinois Department of Corrections. Despite the mandatory nature of the penalty, a sentencing hearing will still take place next month, Brinegar said.

Brinegar, following the jury’s verdict, said it was tough to describe the emotions with the final suspect finally convicted in the case, adding he was he feeling “relief and happiness.”

“But it pales in comparison to what the families have gone through,” he added.

Police were called to the 1700 block of East Main Street on March 25, 2007, where officers found Pepper shot and bleeding in the street. Investigators later discovered the bodies of McCullough and Leverenz inside a nearby duplex apartment at 1707 E. Main St. Pepper had broken out the large window at the front of the apartment as he apparently tried to flee. The two women also had been shot.

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