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Adams murder case goes to jury

DIXON – Byron Adams'  fate now is in the hands of 12 jurors.

At 12:12 p.m. today, Lee County Associate Judge Charles Beckman sent the jury of six men and six women to deliberate the case. 

Adams, 54, of Chicago, is charged with three counts of first-degree murder in the death of Margaret Atherton, 35, of Dixon, on Sept. 11, 2009. 

In his closing argument, Lee County Assistant State's Attorney Peter Buh said there was "no doubt" that Adams was in Dixon that day and that he murdered Atherton. 

Using iPass records and surveillance videos from the Dollar Tree and Walmart stores in Dixon, police tracked his white 2000 Pontiac Grand Am coming from Chicago to Dixon and back. Adams told police he had sole control of the car.

Prosecutors say Atherton's purse and a red, white, and blue towel were found in a trash bin behind the Dollar Tree about an hour before police found Atherton dead in her West First Street home. 

Adams himself gave details that matched perfectly with the evidence, Buh said. 

Only the killer could know that Atherton's hands were bound with a black necktie; that two socks were shoved in her mouth; that a pillowcase was placed on her head and twisted; and that she was found face-down on the bed, Buh said. 

"These are all things the defendant supplied to police," Buh told the jury. 

Defense attorney David Mandrgoc said in his closing argument that prosecutors failed to prove that Adams was even in Atherton's house that day. 

They had no fingerprints, cellphone records, or tire or shoe imprints, he said.

Most importantly, Mandrgoc told the jury, Adams' DNA was not found in Atherton's home or on the pillowcase.

However, a forensic biologist testified last week that Adams was a minor DNA contributor on the pillowcase and his DNA could not be excluded from the black necktie.

Mandrgoc also argued that there were no witnesses who gave a reliable identification of Adams and said he was developed as a suspect simply because he delivered newspapers in Ahterton's neighborhood. 

Further, police promised Adams "over and over" that if he admitted that he was having an affair with Atherton that had gone awry, he could get the lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter. 

"You have more than enough reasonable doubt in this case that you can't find Mr. Adams guilty of any of the charges in this case," Mandrgoc told the jury.

Check back for updates on jury deliberations. 

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