Deliberations begin in murder trial of Lawrence, Saldana - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Deliberations begin in murder trial of Michael Lawrence, Rico Saldana

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6-year-old Layla Jones 6-year-old Layla Jones

(01/21/14) - A Saginaw County jury is now deliberating the fate of two men charged with murdering a 6-year-old girl.

One of the men, Michael Lawrence, was on the run from police for more than a year before being captured in Las Vegas in August.

Before the jury began deliberations, they heard closing arguments from the attorneys, who had different takes on the death of Layla Jones.

"Layla Jones, at 6 years old, is back in town to visit her father, to celebrate a birthday," said George Best, Saginaw County Asst. Prosecutor.

Best says Lawrence and Rico Saldana were two of four men who were part of the shooting death of Layla.

Lawrence is one of the alleged shooters and police say Saldana was driving the car in front of the home on Essling in August 2012.

Levonne Greer has already been sentenced to life in prison.

Best says Greer and Lawrence fired gunshots at a group of people to avenge the death of their friend, Bobby Bailey, who was shot to death earlier that day.

"They empty their handguns at this group of people who are celebrating a family event," he said.

Bill White, the attorney for Lawrence, says other than the testimony of the fourth man in the car, who is being charged as an accessory in the crime, there was little evidence that Lawrence killed Jones.

Testimony in the case indicated there were also gunshots being fired at the car Lawrence and the other men were in.

"Layla Jones was a victim, and in a sense was a casualty of war, a casualty of a sick society, a sick Saginaw, her killer may never be known," White said.

Saldana's attorney, Jim Piazza, says the government's case revolved around three things.

"Sympathy, speculation and a snitch," he said.

Piazza says the fourth man in the car, who testified that Lawrence was a shooter, and Saldana the driver, should not be trusted.

"A liar, somebody that only wants to save his own skin," he said.

The jury is continuing its deliberations.

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