William Buck is guilty of first-degree murder. That was the verdict of a Lake County jury.
Well, it didn't take the jury long to reach a guilty verdict. After only nine hours of deliberating they found William Buck guilty of first-degree murder. They will now have to decide if this crime is eligible for the death penalty.
The six man, six woman jury told William Buck that he will spend at least 20 to 60 years behind bars for the murder of Rockford Police Detective Kevin Rice.
The jury would not look at the defendant when they told Judge Joe McGraw their ruling. They did, however, find that the murder was not especially brutal and heinous. Something prosecutors were banking on to provide ammunition for the death penalty eligibility portion of this trial that now begins on Thursday.
This verdict was extremely emotional for the Rice family. Ardine Rice, the victim's wife, sat with her family holding hands as the judge read the jury's verdict. As the word guilty was spoken, the Rice family wiped away tears and Ardine sat with her eyes closed looking toward the heavens.
The defendant, William Buck, stared straight ahead as the guilty verdict was read, and sat dejected in his chair with his hands covering his face.
The courtroom was in complete silence, but was charged with emotion. The standing room only crowd was filled with Rockford Police officers. They tried to hold back tears as they now found some justice for their fallen comrade's killer.
But this verdict also brings some vindication for the department, as they took some shots from the defense about their alleged handling of this murder investigation.
The jury will begin hearing arguments Friday if William Buck is eligible for the death penalty. They will have to decide if they think William Buck murdered Kevin Rice knowing that he was a police officer acting in official duties, or if they believe this murder took place in the course of a felony. A conviction on either charge will allow the state to seek the death penalty in this case.