Fate of murder suspect in hands of jury

BENTON, IL (KFVS) - The fate of Afton Ferris is now in the hands of the jury.  Closing arguments wrapped up around 11 a.m. Tuesday.

The jury got the case just after 11:30 a.m., but Tuesday afternoon things in the court room heated up.  The temperature reached around 82.  Apparently, there was a problem with the air conditioner at the courthouse.  So just before 4 p.m. the judge let the jury go home for the night.

The jury of nine women and three men are expected back Wednesday morning to take up deliberations.

Ferris faces six changes including murder, home invasion and armed robbery. She has pleaded not guilty.

The Franklin County jury heard from the 21-year-old woman accused of murder on Monday.

Afton Ferris allegedly shot Kandis Majors and Terri Seibeck to death in their West Frankfort home in October 2009.

The defense called two people Monday morning, including Ferris herself.  Ferris spent about two and half hours testifying.  Throughout her testimony, Ferris appeared to have difficult moments answering questions.

Ferris's attorney asked her several questions about what happened in a West Frankfort home nearly two years ago. At the time Ferris and her then boyfriend, Michael Schallert, were living with Majors and Seibeck.

Ferris said after the women kicked them out, the plan was only rob the women and leave town. She said she never picked up a gun and shot Majors or Seibeck.

But in a taped interview with police a short time after her arrest in Colorado, Ferris told officers Majors was moaning and groaning so she shot her in the eye. On Monday, Ferris said she told officers that, but didn't do it.  She said she lied to office to protect Schallert.

Ferris said she had used drugs and only remembers parts of that night.

She added the murders were Schallert's idea.

Both sides rested their case after nearly a week of testimony.  Closing arguments are expected Tuesday morning.

Ferris has pleaded not guilty.

While Afton Ferris waits to hear her fate from a jury... her former boyfriend walked into court.

Michael Schallert went before a Franklin County judge Tuesday.

Schallert is also accused of killing two women in a West Frankfort home back in October 2009.

The judge told Schallert he no longer faces the death penalty due to a change in Illinois law.

Instead, now if Schallert is found guilty on two counts of murder he faces life in prison.

Schallert's trial is set for the beginning of September.

He has pleaded not guilty.

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