Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

2 Murder Trials on Docket in Belleville

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

2 Murder Trials on Docket in Belleville

Article excerpt

Testimony in one death-penalty murder case is scheduled to begin today in circuit court in Belleville, and jury selection is under way in another.

Yet another capital punishment case in St. Clair County ended Monday in conviction, but jurors rejected the death penalty. A judge will schedule sentencing in that case later.

On trial starting today is Cortez L. "Tez" Irving, 27, of East St. Louis, in a drug-related double killing that took place more than seven years ago. The victims, Donald E. Merkel, 34, of Columbia, Ill., and Abdul A. Brown, 28, of St. Louis, were found in the trunk of Merkel's burning car on Oct. 16, 1989, in the 2100 block of Morris Street in East St. Louis. A co-defendant, Anthony Burns, 32, of East St. Louis, was tried and acquitted in September. Burns' defense attorney did not dispute Irving's involvement but insisted to the jury that nothing connected Burns to the killings. That trial was delayed due to witnesses missing until recently and other difficulties in making a case against the suspects. …

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