GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Deliberations will continue Thursday after a jury didn’t decide a verdict on whether a man serving time for raping a girl will also serve time for her murder.
Quinn James is accused of murdering 16-year-old Mujey Dumbuya last January, who he has already been convicted of raping.
Jurors began deliberations around 2 p.m. Wednesday after hearing six days of testimony and several hours of closing arguments.
Prosecutors claim James strangled Dumbuya and tried to hide DNA evidence by pouring bleach on her body. Technicians testified they found his DNA on her jeans anyways.
Her blood was also found in the rental car prosecutors say James was driving.
The defense claims police became fixated on James early on in the investigation because of the rape charge, so they likely overlooked other evidence.
“Your job is to decide ‘does this evidence line up as they presented or are there other possibilities that are reasonable?’ Unfortunately, she told people that she was going to run away,” said Jonathan Schildgen, James’ attorney. “She did run away. She did run away. Somebody down there on the 28th killed her, poured bleached on that body and lit the evidence on fire.”
Dumbuya’s body was found in a wooded area of Kalamazoo County after disappearing while waiting for a bus in Grand Rapids. She was set to testify against James in his rape trial.
“You see the progression from the time he’s arrested on that CSC until the end that he has formed that intent to kill before they do,” said Kelle Koncki, assistant prosecutor. “When you look at these, you can find him guilty of both those counts if you believe we’ve proved beyond a reasonable doubt that he’s committed both types of first-degree murder.”
James was sentenced to a minimum of 20 years in prison on rape charges. If convicted of Dumbuya’s murder, he faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole.