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Prosecution opens in double-murder trial



Published: Tue, October 24, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.



The prosecutor says 70 percent to 80 percent of the two victims' bodies were burned.

By ED RUNYAN

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

WARREN -- Jermaine McKinney made Rebecca Cliburn die in "agony and pain" last December -- then smoked cigarettes as he waited for his second murder victim to arrive.

That's what Prosecutor Dennis Watkins told jurors today in his opening statement in McKinney's double-murder trial in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court. "You're gonna see contusions and lacerations. You're gonna see fractured skulls."

"Fractured skulls with bleeding, where this poor woman died in agony and pain through being terrorized -- by being tied up with wire, with a sheet and being beaten just after he made love," the prosecutor said.

"And a complete stranger came home within an hour and [McKinney went] through step-by-step in planning a scheme to get away with murder," he said.

If convicted of killing Cliburn and her mother, Wanda Rollyson, last December in Rollyson's Newton Township home, McKinney could face the death penalty.

The agony Cliburn suffered is one of several aggravating circumstances Watkins said the evidence will prove. Proof of such aggravating circumstances is required to show that a defendant deserves the death penalty.

Watkins said McKinney, a 26-year-old former Girard and Youngstown man who liked to watch the television show "CSI," which is about solving crimes, made several mistakes that placed crucial evidence in the hands of police.

The prosecutor pointed out the following:

*Despite McKinney's concern about removing his cigarette butts from the house, one was left behind that contained his DNA.

*Though McKinney burned 70 percent to 80 percent of his victims' bodies, he left behind a lot of boot-marked bloodstains on the basement floor.

*Though he tried to put his blood- and sweat-soaked boots in McKelvey Lake on Youngstown's East Side, the boots didn't sink through the ice and were easily retrieved a short time later.

McKinney's defense team was to present its opening statement this afternoon.

runyan@vindy.com




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