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Appeals court rules Peoria woman deserves new murder trial

WCBU courts

A Peoria woman sentenced to 50 years in prison for murder will get a new trial.

The 3rd District Appellate Court found 35-year-old Sheyanah Lee's lawyer should have objected to the admission of police body camera video from 2018 showing Markesha Jeffries dying from her stab wounds while her family cried out for help.

The court said the graphic video unfairly prejudiced the jury against Lee because the video did not add anything to the argument that Lee committed first-degree murder. The judges said the fact and cause of what happened wasn't in doubt because of cell phone video showing a fight leading up to the stabbing, and photographs of the scene that also were admitted.

The judges said the jury was to decide whether Lee acted in self-defense, and whether she knew stabbing Jeffries in the leg carried a risk of great bodily harm or death for her.

Thecourt also found that 50-year sentence given by judge John Vespa was excessive, and that he showed bias by characterizing Lee as showing no remorse for Jeffries' death.

The appellate judges said the retrial should conducted before a different judge.

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Tim is the News Director at WCBU Peoria Public Radio.