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Local News

Defense argue over rights violations in Lockport Township case

JOLIET – A judge will decide if a teenage murder suspect's rights were violated before he was indicted by a grand jury.

Defense attorney Cosmo Tedone said the indictment against Christopher Stamps, 17, should be dismissed because the involvement of Will County Sheriff's detectives prejudiced proceedings against Stamps.

Tedone and Assistant Will County State's Attorney John Connor argued Monday before Judge Dave Carlson. Lawyers frequently cited case law during the one-and-a-half hour hearing, but did not call any witnesses.

On Oct. 23, 2014, Latray Wright, 16, was walking with a friend near Princeton and Fairmont avenues in Lockport Township when he was gunned down by the occupants of a blue car.

Will County Sheriff's police said Stamps and Wright belonged to different factions of the same street gang and engaged in a dispute over insults posted on social media websites.

At an earlier hearing, Stamps' relatives told Carlson they were "intimidated" by the presence of detectives in the room as they testified to the grand jury in November.

"Obtaining grand jury testimony from these witnesses [was to] preclude them from providing an alibi," Connor said Monday. "They may not have been aware of that at the time."

State law does not prohibit investigators from attending grand jury proceedings and Connor said prosecutors regularly confer with them between questions for witnesses.

Connor acknowledged a detective asked one witness "When you got to your mother's on [Oct.] 23 what time did you go to sleep," a question that should have been asked by a prosecutor.

"That was a technical error ... [one time over] three separate days of testimony," Connor said. "We're asking the court to look at the totality [of proceedings]."

Carlson said he will decide on the motion next week.

After Stamps' court appearance in January, three men allegedly beat another man just outside the courthouse. Christian M. Blackwell, Makhi T. Jones, and Martell K. Jones, were arrested at the scene on charges of aggravated battery and mob action.

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