Parents of double-murder victims vow to see justice done

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Having endured a second trial listening to the sordid details of their sons’ deaths, the mothers of Terrance Rankins and Eric Glover left the Will County courthouse Tuesday with weariness in their eyes.

“Every time you have to come back, it’s anxiety all over again,” Jamille Kent, Rankins’ mother, said. “It’s never ending.”

But after closing arguments in the trial of Joshua Miner, who is charged with both men’s January 2013 murders on Hickory Street in Joliet, Kent said she still had an ending in mind.

“I’m hoping he’s found guilty and that he never walks the street again,” Kent said.

Miner, 26, was arrested and charged with murder after the bodies of Rankins and Glover, both 22, were discovered Jan. 10, 2013, at 1121 N. Hickory St. Also arrested were Alisa Massaro and Bethany McKee, both 20, and Adam Landerman, 21.

Miner’s defense attorneys acknowledged Tuesday that their client killed Kent’s son. But they said Miner shouldn’t be held accountable for the murder of Glover, who was allegedly killed by Landerman.

Avoiding a conviction for Glover’s death would help Miner escape a life sentence. But his guilt will be decided by Will County Judge Gerald Kinney, who already found McKee guilty of both murders even though she wasn’t in the room when the men died. Kinney said he will announce his verdict in Miner’s bench trial on Oct. 8.

Defense attorney Michael Renzi argued that prosecutors had failed to offer any evidence to corroborate Miner’s statement to police that the four had concocted a robbery plot — and the existence of a plot is crucial to holding all the defendants responsible for both deaths.

And, Kinney noted near the end of Tuesday’s proceedings, “corroboration has become more and more significant over my career.”

Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow personally delivered the prosecution’s final remarks Tuesday. He said Miner has an “abandoned and malignant heart” and used the “ultimate weapon” to kill Rankins — a chokehold.

Miner admitted to police he killed Rankins, and he said in a videotaped police interview that he stopped choking Rankins when Rankins stopped moving. But he also bragged to police about his experience with bare-knuckled fighting and claimed he’d choked people out more than 10 times.

Forensic pathologist Valerie Arangelovich testified Monday that, when a person dies of strangulation, it takes 10-30 seconds of constant pressure to render that person unconscious, and another three-and-a-half to six minutes of constant pressure to kill that person.

Glasgow also seized on the desecration of the victims after their deaths, including Miner’s attempt to have sex with Massaro near the bodies.

“The sanctity of human life is why we’re in this courtroom,” Glasgow said. “They have no idea what that means.”

Landerman allegedly killed Glover while Miner fought with Rankins. Prosecutors charged all four defendants with the two murders under the legal theory of accountability, alleging the deaths were the result of an agreed-upon robbery plot that turned fatal.

Miner acknowledged to police there was a plan to rob the men. But Renzi said prosecutors had not offered any evidence to support that assertion.

Such corroborating evidence might have come from Massaro, who served as the key witness during McKee’s trial. Massaro avoided a murder conviction by pleading guilty to robbery and to concealing a homicide in exchange for a 10-year prison sentence. She’ll be eligible for release in 2018. But she also agreed to testify against her friends.

Prosecutors didn’t call her to testify against Miner, though. And Renzi said prosecutors offered no evidence to link Miner to Glover’s murder.

“The court does not have the luxury of emotion,” Renzi told Kinney.

Miner was smoking a cigarette when police found him, and prosecutors said that was proof of the robbery plot — it was allegedly concocted after the group ran out of cigarettes.

Rankins’ father, Duval Rankins, later said anyone accused of a crime in the United States deserves their day in court.

“They’re just doing their very best to defend their client, you know,” he said of Miner’s attorneys.

But he added: “It’s an exercise in futility, if you ask me.”

Nicole Jones, Glover’s mother, said she’ll never understand what Miner and his friends allegedly did to her son.

“I hurt every day,” she said. “I go to work hurting. I come home hurting. I mean it’s just, it’s hard. It’s hard as hell.”

But she said she’ll continue to endure the trials of his alleged killers. Landerman is expected back in court Oct. 23.

“I’m going to be the voice for my son,” Jones said, “like I’ve been throughout this whole thing.”

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