JOLIET — The last defendant to be tried in the Hickory Street murders wants jurors to believe both victims were killed by another suspect when a fight got out of hand.
Assistant Public Defender April Simmons said Adam M. Landerman had not plotted with Joshua Miner, Bethany McKee and Alisa Massaro to rob Eric Glover Jr. and Terrance Rankins on Jan. 9, 2013, at Massaro’s house in the 1100 block of North Hickory Street in Joliet.
“There was no plan [to rob them]. Josh Miner had a plan,” Simmons said. “Later that evening, a fight occurred between Josh Miner and Terrance Rankins and. . . . Adam tried to stop Eric Glover from jumping in.”
Simmons said that after Landerman stopped Glover Jr., he went into the other room to find that Miner had killed Rankins. He returned to “find Miner wrapping a cloth around Glover’s throat.”
But Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow said Landerman strangled Glover while Miner was killing Rankins.
“Rankins and Glover were two young men doing nothing but coming over to party . . . [believing] they’re among friends. They’re absolutely sitting ducks for anyone who wants to do them harm,” Glasgow said.
Simmons and Glasgow delivered opening statements Wednesday as Landerman’s trial began at the Will County Courthouse in Joliet. Landerman, the son of a Joliet police officer, is charged with murdering both men, legally accountable for their deaths by participating in the robbery, Glasgow said.
The suspects took $100 from Rankins’ pockets and $20 from Glover’s and used the money to buy cocaine and gas for McKee’s car, according to Glasgow.
To show McKee and Massaro the victims were truly dead, Landerman jumped on their backs and “surfed” to show they wouldn’t move, Massaro and Miner said during their interviews with authorities.
After the bodies were covered with a sheet, Landerman, Massaro and Miner tried to have sex either next to or on top of them, McKee told investigators.
McKee and Miner opted for separate bench trials last year; both were found guilty. Massaro cut a deal and pleaded guilty to lesser charges in exchange for testifying against the other three, although she has only testified in McKee’s trial. She is not expected to testify in Landerman’s trial.
Joliet Police Officers Brian Lanton, Michael DeVito and Terry Higgins were the first witnesses to testify Wednesday. Police arrived at the house on the afternoon of Jan. 10, 2013, after McKee told her father about the bodies in the house and he called police.
DeVito said he was searching the basement of the Hickory Street home where the killings occurred with Higgins when he saw white shoes sticking out from some white paneling propped up in a side room. He discovered Landerman hiding there.
“He was crouched down, kind of facing the corner wall area [keeping] his hands under his torso,” DeVito said. “I drew my weapon, told him to show me his hands, but he did not comply. He turned to me and smiled.”
DeVito said Landerman did eventually raise his hands and Higgins placed him in handcuffs.
Evidence Technician Nicholas Amelio testified he collected a set of keys and an orange cigarette lighter from the basement where Landerman had hid.
Amelio also identified yellow rubber gloves, two bottles of bleach, a hand-held propane torch, a pair of small garden shears, a utility knife, two hand knives, a pair of scissors, a hacksaw and a second blade as items found near Rankins’ body, laid out on four black plastic garbage bags in the upstairs kitchenette.
Glasgow said after Landerman left the next morning, Miner had one of the women call and ask him to bring some of those items from his grandparents’ house. They would be used to get rid of the bodies.
Illinois State Police Crime Lab Technician Jamie Edwards testified two of Landerman’s fingerprints were found on the propane torch and three of his prints were on the garbage bags.
The trial is scheduled to continue Thursday.