Grice Guilty of Rape, Murder of Che Sims Defense Plans Appeal, Calls Confession Forced

Article excerpt

A jury convicted Jeffrey Grice on Tuesday of first-degree murder, rape and armed criminal action in the gang rape and strangulation of 12-year-old Che Sims along a creek bed in Breckenridge Hills.

The jury of 12 women deliberated five hours before convicting Grice in St. Louis County Circuit Court.

Che's father, John Sims, said, "All I can say is that he got what he deserved."

Grice, 18, sobbed as Judge Bernhardt C. Drumm Jr. read the verdicts. So did his sister, Tamara Canter, and his parents, Robert and Jessie Jane Grice.

Grice wore an unbuttoned white shirt with short sleeves and, as he had throughout the trial, khaki slacks.

The charge of first-degree murder carries a sentence of either life in prison without parole or death.

The state didn't seek the death penalty because Grice, of St. Ann, was a juvenile when Che was strangled on September 17, 1990. Her corpse was slashed in what police called a pact of silence between Grice, other defendants and teen-age witnesses. The mutilated body was found the next day.

The jury recommended life in prison on the rape and armed criminal action convictions, the maximum sentence.

In closing arguments, prosecutor John DeVouton said Che's murder "was a a horrible crime. Not only was she strangled, they mutilated her as part of a blood pact."

"Che was 12 years old; she was an honor student. She was a nice girl anyone would be proud to call your daughter," DeVouton told the jury. "Set aside your sympathy for a young man facing life in prison."

After the verdict, the jury left Drumm's courtroom through a hallway door. Drumm set sentencing for Oct. 9.

Grice's attorneys, Ronald Laboe and Paul Craig, said they would appeal the verdicts.

Grice was the first of four defendants to be tried for Che's murder. Awaiting trial are Matthew Funke, 28, of St. John; Chris Johnson, 19, of north St. Louis County and Brian Faulkner, 17, formerly of Overland.

Funke was convicted in January of first-degree murder and sentenced to life without parole for killing George Sammons Jr. with a hammer and crowbar 17 days after Che died. …