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Second defendant found guilty of both deaths in Joliet double-murder

Joshua Miner saw the writing on the wall.

So the ringleader of the January 2013 strangling deaths of two men on Hickory Street in Joliet was not surprised to hear a Will County judge convict him Wednesday of murdering both victims, his defense attorney said.

The verdict means Miner, who admitted killing Terrance Rankins but tried to avoid responsibility for the death of Eric Glover, faces a mandatory term of life in prison at his sentencing hearing on Nov. 12.

It also means Rankins’ family can “breath just a little bit better,” Rankins’ aunt said after the verdict.

“We’re not done yet,” Carla Kent said outside the Will County courthouse, “but I can finally kind of exhale.”

Miner, 26, was arrested along with Adam Landerman, 21, and Bethany McKee and Alisa Massaro, both 20, after police found the bodies of the victims, both 22, on the second floor of Massaro’s home at 1121 N. Hickory.

Prosecutors charged all four with both murders under the legal theory of accountability — alleging the group lured Rankins and Glover to Massaro’s home while plotting a robbery that turned fatal.

Miner was sitting on a couch and smoking a cigarette when police arrived, officers testified. And they said he confessed to killing Rankins, who had been strangled along with Glover.

But Miner’s defense attorneys argued he shouldn’t be held accountable for Glover’s death. Though he admitted to police he helped plan a robbery, his lawyers said prosecutors offered no evidence to corroborate the robbery plot.

Will County Judge Gerald Kinney disagreed. Handing down his decision Wednesday, Kinney said the physical evidence in the case, when “viewed as a whole,” adequately corroborated Miner’s comments.

Miner waived his right to a jury trial and left his fate in the hands of Kinney, who found McKee guilty in August of both murders even though she wasn’t in the room when the men were killed. She faces the same fate as Miner when she is sentenced Oct. 16.

Massaro, Miner’s girlfriend at the time of the killings, pleaded guilty in May to robbery and concealing a homicide in exchange for 10 years in prison. She agreed to testify against her friends and is eligible for release in 2018.

But prosecutors have so far only called her to testify against McKee.

That leaves Landerman, whose trial has not been set but who is expected back in court Oct. 23. Miner told police Landerman killed Glover after Glover kicked Miner in the face during the struggle.

Prosecutors also said Landerman later pretended to “surf” on the bodies to prove the men were dead.

Police found Landerman in the Hickory Street home the day officers found the bodies there, having been tipped off by McKee’s father.

Landerman was hiding in the concrete basement behind a piece of paneling propped against a wall, an officer testified. At first, he refused to show his face.

But the officer said Landerman finally turned to them.

And when he did so, he was grinning.

Email: jseidel@suntimes.com

Twitter: @SeidelContent