Curtis Jones (Johnson County Sheriff)

Iowa City cab driver murder case moves forward

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Curtis Jones, charged with first degree murder of cab driver, will have a case management conference Friday to set new deadlines, but not address pending motions.

Today, a case-management conference will be a precursor for the April 2018 trial of Curtis Jones, charged with first-degree murder in connection with the slaying of cab driver Ricky Lillie and first-degree robbery.

The conference will take place at the Johnson County Courthouse at 1:30 p.m. to determine deadlines for pretrial requests and motions, reset hearing on pending motions, and consider other deadlines or requirements the counsel needs to aid in getting ready for a trial.

Lillie, a cab driver for Yellow Cab of Iowa City, was found dead in his cab on June 28. The night before, witnesses identified Jones taking an uninterrupted cab ride in Lillie’s cab. Jones then allegedly shot Lillie in the head, killing him, and was captured on surveillance video leaving the location where Lillie was found.

A warrant was filed for Jones’ arrest on July 19. He was held in the Washington County Jail on pending theft charges and a parole violation on June 30. Jones is now being held in the Johnson County Jail.

RELATED: Yellow Cab releases statement on deceased cab driver Ricky Ray Lillie

Previously represented by Quint Meyerdirk, Jones requested a new attorney in a handwritten letter to the court, saying he was unhappy with his representation. Meyerdirk submitted a motion Oct. 31 to immediately withdraw as Jones’ lawyer, citing breakdown of communication between the two.

Jones is now represented by Davis Douglas from the Linn County Public Defender’s Office.

Because of new representation, the conference would have heard pending motions, but a motion from the new defense attorney claims he would not have enough time to prepare for the pending motions. Now, the motions will be continued, with deadlines and a new hearing set at the conference.

Pending motions include suppressing Jones’ answers to questioning because he was intoxicated at the time, and the former defense attorney also questioned if Jones had been properly read his Miranda rights.

The jury trial was originally set for October 2017, but the judge granted a motion filed by Meyerdirk in October to change the venue and date of the trial, claiming the local media coverage would have made it difficult to find an unbiased jury in the local population.

The trial is set for April 9, 2018, at the Scott County Courthouse in Davenport.

— Sarah Watson

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