Deliberations Underway for Compton Trial

Local News

Jury deliberations are underway in Christopher Compton’s triple murder trial in Evansville.

He’s accused of setting a fire in the spring of 2014 that killed his ex-girlfriend, her young daughter and another man inside an apartment on West Franklin Street.

This case has been an emotional one from the very beginning. The deaths of a young mother, 28-year-old Keri Jones, her three-year-old daughter Jazmine, and 76-year-old Donald Lankford shocked not only their families and friends, but most of the Evansville community.

The question now jurors must answer: Is Christopher Compton guilty in their deaths?

The jury began its deliberations around 3:15 Monday, so the waiting game has begun.

Before they began those deliberations, the jury heard two very powerful and very different closing statements.

Two doctors were called to the stand Monday morning. They were appointed by the court to determine whether Compton was mentally competent to stand trial. They both determined that he was, but it was also revealed that Compton has an IQ of just 65. The doctors said he fit the criteria of being mildly mentally retarded.

That would be a key point in the defense’s closing statement. The defense told the jury that the case boils down to one determination, whether compton was a cold-blooded killer or whether he was a mentally retarded drunk.

From the beginning, the defense has argued that the fire was a reckless accident and Compton loved the children.

In its closing argument, the state conceded that Compton was, in fact, a drunk. But it asked the jury, “how drunk do you have to be to light a house on fire and kill three people?”

County prosecutor Nick Hermann delivered a powerful and aggressive closing argument. At one point, he took the lighter that Compton had in his pocket when he was arrested. He held up that lighter, looked at the jury and said, “Here’s your murder weapon.”

Hermann also asked, “If Compton loved the children so much, why did he walk away from the fire? And if it was an accident, how come he didn’t call 911 or get a garden hose?”

Hermann wrapped up his closing statement by saying, if Compton couldn’t have Jazmine and Sierah, no one could.

The jury is still deliberating. We’ll be sure to let you know when a verdict is reached.

Click here to see Jordan Vandenberge’s tweets from the courthouse.

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