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Jury chooses life term for Grain Valley teen

Jury chooses life term for Grain Valley teen
KEVIN HOFFMANN, The Kansas City Star
PUBLICATION: Kansas City Star, The (MO)

SECTION: NEWS

DATE: May 16, 2008

EDITION: 1

Page: B1
Eddie George said he didn’t plan the murder of his best friend’s mother, but he admitted that he was the one who stabbed her multiple times, killing her.

For that, he should spend the rest of his life in prison with no chance of parole, a Jackson County jury said Thursday.

The jury deliberated for more than three hours before finding George, 18, guilty of all four charges he faced — first-degree murder, assault and two counts of armed criminal action. Prosecutors earlier this week dropped a charge of auto theft.

During the three-day trial, the defense did not contest prosecutors’ assertions that George was the one who used kitchen knives from the Grain Valley home of Joe and Pamela Marquez to attack the couple in July 2006.

Joe Marquez fought off the attack against him, but was left bloodied from a gash to his chin and a slash across his neck. Shortly after that, he found his wife lying on the floor of their bedroom, her chest covered in blood, the blade of a broken steak knife at her side.

Instead, defense attorney John Picerno argued that the Marquezes’ son, Taylor Marquez, was the person behind the attacks and was the one who was supposed to kill his mother, according to plans that George described to police.

After attacking Joe Marquez, George didn’t have time to deliberate about stabbing Pamela Marquez; therefore the most he should be convicted of was second-degree murder, Picerno argued. But he said there was doubt about that, too: It was possible Taylor Marquez stabbed his mother at least once and that may have been the fatal wound, he said.

The verdicts indicated jurors did not believe his argument, though no one on the panel chose to comment.

While family members and friends offered long embraces to Joe Marquez following the outcome, prosecutors hesitated to call it a victory.

“It’s a victory in the sense that justice was served,” said assistant prosecutor Tim Dollar. “I don’t know if there ever is a victory when a human life is taken.”

Jurors deliberated for two more hours before setting a sentence on the three charges outside of first-degree murder, for which life with no chance of parole is the only possible sentence. They ruled that George should spend life in prison on the armed criminal action conviction tied to the murder of Pamela Marquez, 15 years for assaulting Joe Marquez and 30 years for the second count of armed criminal action.

Before the sentencing phase, Picerno indicated to jurors that George had been caught up in something that he didn’t want to be a part of.

“Obviously, Eddie is not proud of what he did,” he said. “Sometimes, good people do bad things.”

The trial was difficult for many in the courtroom, including neighbors who knew both boys, George’s parents and Joe Marquez, who took the witness stand Wednesday. He declined to comment after the trial, but stood alongside prosecutors as they discussed the verdict.

“It’s difficult for anybody,” Dollar said. “In this process, Joe had to get up there and talk about how his wife struggled in her last minutes.”

Now, Joe Marquez, prosecutors and another defense team must prepare for the trial of Taylor Marquez, 18, scheduled to go to trial in August.

Dollar said prosecutors would not necessarily prepare for that case the same way they prepared for the case against George.