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Illinois woman faces murder charge after planning robbery

By Dawn Reiss

JOLIET Ill. (Reuters) - An Illinois woman who helped plan a robbery that led to a double murder and who spent the stolen cash on cigarettes should be found guilty of murder, the prosecution said on Tuesday in closing arguments at a trial in the Chicago suburb of Joliet.

Bethany McKee, 20, is on trial for first-degree murder in the killings of Terrance Rankins and Eric Glover, both 22, who were robbed of $120 and strangled in a duplex in Joliet on Jan. 9, 2013.

During the six-day trial, Alisa Massaro, also 20 and a former friend of McKee, told the judge that both women were part of a plan to lure Rankins to a night of drinking and then rob him, but that they weren't in the room when the victims were killed.

Massaro is serving a 10-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to lesser charges of robbery and concealing a homicide.

Joshua Miner, 26, and Adam Landerman, 21, are also charged in the murders but will be tried separately.

The prosecution argued that McKee could be guilty of murder even if she wasn't present for the actual killing.

"She had about 120 seconds to try and stop Joshua Miner's plan but she squandered that opportunity for $20 in cigarettes and a few lines of cocaine," Assistant State's Attorney John Connor said in his closing argument.

Prosecutors said McKee saw Miner strike Rankins, that she was aware of what was happening, that she spent $20 of the stolen money on cigarettes, didn't call the police and later returned and contacted her father to help dispose of the bodies. Her father, Bill McKee, called the police to report the crime.

Defense lawyer Chuck Bretz argued that McKee made "horrible decisions" but was guilty of lesser crimes because there was no proof she intended the robbery to turn into a murder.

Will County Chief Judge Gerald Kinney said he would deliver a verdict by Aug. 29.

The defense did not call any witnesses in the trial, but did show a videotaped statement that Massaro made to police after she was arrested, which contradicted much of what she said on the witness stand in court.

(Editing by Fiona Ortiz and Eric Walsh)

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