Price convicted for student’s murder

By Gus Bode

Katie Davis and Moustafa Ayad

More than two years after Marcus Thomas’ body was found on the living room floor of a Marion Street apartment, a man was finally convicted of murder charges in connection of the incident.

Terron C. Price, 23, of Tamms was found guilty Tuesday of first-degree murder and attempted armed robbery in connection with the March 2001 shooting death of SIUC student Marcus Thomas.

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Jackson County State’s Attorney Mike Wepsiec said the evidence presented throughout the trial supports the prosecution’s theory that Price was indeed the triggerman behind the murder and attempted robbery of Thomas.

“The evidence supports the verdict,” Wepsiec said. ‘It’s obvious that the jury feels the same way.

“When you look at the case, the entire case, you see that we had eight witnesses and 14 pieces of evidence. To say that one piece or one witness was pivotal would do injustice to the entire case.”

After less than two hours of deliberation, the jury found Price guilty. He is slated to be sentenced Nov. 25 and is facing a sentence of 20 to 60 years in an Illinois correctional facility. Price was apprehended six months ago in Gary, Ind.

Price’s conviction rested on the testimony of Maurice Carter, who is one of two cousins who accompanied Price to the botched robbery. Carter testified Monday they all met all at Marlin Clark’s house and agreed to rob Thomas of money and marijuana.

According to Carter, Price brought a sawed-off .22 caliber shotgun. Carter stood lookout as Clark and Price arrived at Thomas’ front door. Carter said as he stood with his back to the house, he heard the distinct sound of glass shattering. He turned to see Price and Thomas wrestling on the front porch. He said Clark was standing on the front porch doing nothing.

Carter said Thomas then jumped over the rail of the front porch. A few seconds later, he heard a gunshot. After hearing the shot, Carter immediately took off in a mad sprint. He said he did not know from which direction the shot came; all he knew was that as he was running he heard a few more gunshots and later saw Thomas running down the street.

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Carter said he, Price and Clark ran back to Marlin Clark’s house, Jeremy Clark’s brother. Carter testified Monday he did not talk about what happened until after he was arrested.

Tuesday the defense presented one witness and the prosecution brought forth two Police officers who testified Price was actually the triggerman in the robbery.

Carbondale Police Officer Stan Reno was the first witness for the prosecution. Reno said Price was brought to jail around 7 p.m. April 30 and interviewed around 8 p.m. Police did not begin taping the interview until two hours and 20 minutes into the initial interview.

The last 17 minutes of the tape were played to the courtroom. In those last few minutes, Price said in March of 2001 he, Price and Clark planned to get drugs from an unnamed person. Reno said in his testimony that Clark and Price engaged in a conversation about robbing an unnamed “weedman.”

When they arrived at Thomas’ residence, Clark was the first to fire a gun, according to Reno’s interview with Price. Upon the initial shot, Price stopped wrestling with Thomas and tried to get up.

Reno said he spoke to a Gary detective who was involved in the arrest of Price who told him the gun was accidentally fired at Thomas three to four more times. Price does not know who pulled the trigger. The detective said an estimated four to five shots were fired there.

Thomas was later found on the living room floor of an apartment on the 300 block of South Marion Street. He had been shot once in the lower back.

Carbondale Police Officer John Sytsma testified Marlin Clark brought all three assailants together to talk about the robbery of a local drug pusher. Price told Sytsma Jeremy Clark fired the first shot as Thomas jumped over the front porch railing.

Margaret Degen, the Jackson County assistant public defender, said the correlation of the elapsed time of the entire interview and the actual taped portion presented a problem with the tape being used as evidence.

Degen’s only witness Tuesday was Milton McDaniel Jr., 26, of Carbondale.

McDaniel said he does not know Price but knows Jeremy Clark, who is a relative of a relative. He said Clark arrived at his door March 17, 2001, and was awakened by the knocking. Clark and one other person stopped by McDaniel’s home to drop off the .22 caliber weapon. McDaniel said he disposed of the sawed-off weapon by sawing it in two.

Wepsiec said in order to convict Price, the prosecution needed to prove Price was involved with a group that attempted to do great bodily harm to Thomas.

Degen said in her closing arguments Price was not apprehended until 16 months after the crime, after police had exhausted all avenues of investigation.

“Terron was on the step but didn’t struggle, didn’t intervene. He never laid a finger on Marcus Thomas,” Begen said. ” There is no evidence that would at all prove that Price would profit from the robbery.”

Wepsiec said the 16 months were a result of a criminal eluding police, making their jobs that much harder.

“When people do not cooperate with the police, when they don’t care about the law of society, yes, it takes 16 months for an arrest warrant.”

Reporter Katie Davis can be reached at [email protected]

Reporter Moustafa Ayad can be reached at [email protected]

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