Will County prosecutors rested their case Monday against the alleged ringleader of last year’s Joliet double-homicide on Hickory Street without calling a key witness to the stand.
Joshua Miner, 26, is on trial for the murders of 22-year-olds Eric Glover and Terrance Rankins. Police said they found Miner smoking a cigarette on a couch near the men’s bodies at 1121 N. Hickory on Jan. 10, 2013. He allegedly confessed at the time to killing one of the victims.
Three others, including 20-year-old Alisa Massaro, also were arrested and charged with murder. Massaro would later plead guilty to robbery and concealing a homicide. She also agreed to testify against her co-defendants in exchange for a 10-year prison term, leaving her eligible for release in 2018.
But prosecutors didn’t call her to the stand before resting their case against Miner.
Closing arguments in Miner’s trial could begin as early as Tuesday.
His defense attorneyshave said prosecutors won’t prove their case. They also hinted at another possible strategy duringarguments Monday.
Minercould avoid a life sentence if convicted of murdering only one of the men. Therefore, his attorneys might argue Miner should not be held responsible for both deaths.
Massaro was Miner’s girlfriend at the time of the killings and lived in the home where police say Glover and Rankins were killed. After their deaths, officers arrested Miner, Massaro, 20-year-old Bethany McKee and 21-year-old Adam Landerman and charged all four with murder under the legal theory of accountability.
Miner and Landerman are accused of strangling the men after the group allegedly plotted to rob Rankins.
Massaro kept her promise to testify at McKee’s trial last month, providing key testimony that helped prosecutors convict McKee of murder. McKee’s sentencing hearing is set for Oct. 16, and she faces a mandatory term of life in prison.
Massaro, meanwhile, will be eligible for release from prison in less than four years.
It’s not clear why prosecutors chose not to call Massaro to testify against Miner. He admitted to killing one of the victims in a videotaped statement played in court last week.
But McKee’s attorney, Chuck Bretz, also brought Massaro to tears when he grilled her relentlessly on the witness stand last month.
Bretz accused Massaro of lying to police “more times than I can count” after the bodies of Rankins and Glover were found in her home.
He also pointed to jailhouse letters Massaro wrote to her family. In them, she wrote she’d rather live under a bridge than be in jail. She wrote she’s “willing to do anything” just to see her parents again. And finally, she wrote she’s “not dumb enough to be in jail for the rest of my life.”
Massaro said she only lied to police because she was scared and “didn’t want to remember” what happened. She also said she would have told the truth even if she hadn’t been offered a plea deal because she had a revelation after her arrest.
“I realized how important the truth is,” Massaro said. “It sets you free.”
Later, when Will County Judge Gerald Kinney convicted McKee, he said Massaro’s testimony had to be taken with suspicion “in light of the fact that she is a former co-defendant.”
Miner waived his right to a trial by jury, so his guilt also will be decided by Kinney.