Omarrian Jones Guilty of Murder

By: Meghan Dwyer Email
By: Meghan Dwyer Email

ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- Omarrian Jones has been found guilty on all 27 counts against him, including the 2009 murder of Rey and Leticia Cardino.

The jury only took two hours to deliberate before coming back with the verdict.

The Cardino family was thrilled with the news, after a long three years of court hearings and litigation. At different times during the trial, the children of the slain elderly couple left courtroom, moved to tears by gruesome pictures of their loved ones, who were beaten to death with a hammer.

In closing arguments, defense attorneys argued Jones was merely a burglar, not a murderer, and another person had killed the couple.

Prosecutors referred to the mystery third person as "the phantom," saying all evidence pointed to Jones being the killer, including DNA evidence found on rubber gloves worn by the murderer.

After the jury was dismissed, prosecutors said they were pleased justice was served.

A sentencing date has not yet been set, but Jones faces life in prison.

Press Release

Winnebago County State’s Attorney Joe Bruscato announced today that on May 8, 2012 OMARRIAN JONES (1/4/1985) was found guilty of First Degree Murder (20 counts), Attempt First Degree Murder (1 count), Home Invasion (5 Counts) and Residential Burglary (1 count) after a two week jury trial in front of the Honorable Judge Ron White. The jury deliberated for just over two hours before returning the guilty verdict on all 27 counts.

On July 8, 2009 at approximately 7:05 p.m. Rockford City Police were dispatched to 2623 Pleasant View Avenue to investigate a possible home invasion. Upon arrival detectives met with Reyle Cardino who had informed them that when he arrived at his parent’s home there was a unknown male in the kitchen of the home and he observed that the house was in disarray. He further indicated that the assailant attacked him and during the struggle they fell down a flight of stairs. The assailant continued to beat Reyle, hitting him and throwing several items at his head and then fled from the scene. After surviving the beating Reyle was able to make his way outside where he was able to reach a neighbor who then contacted the police. Upon searching the home officers discovered the bodies of of Reynato and Leticia Cardino who were brutally beaten to death in their home. Reyle provided a description of the assailant to police and after an extensive investigation and DNA testing Omarrian Jones was developed as a suspect. On July 14, 2009 police secured a warrant for his arrest. He was located and taken into custody on July 16, 2009 after a foot chase. Reyle Cardino later identified Omarrian Jones in a photo line-up as the man he encountered when entering the home of his parents.

First Degree Murder is a Class M Felony with a sentencing range of 20-60 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections. Under Illinois law if a person is convicted for killing two or more individuals the sentence is mandatory life in prison without the possibility of parole. The Jury also found that the murders were committed against a person 60 years of age or older and that the murder was accompanied by exceptionally brutal or heiness behavior indicative of wanton cruelty. These enhancement factors provide a sentencing range of up to 100 years on the First Degree Murder Charges. Attempt First Degree Murder is a Class X felony with a sentencing range of 6-30 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections. Home Invasion is a Class X Felony with a sentencing range of 6-30 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections. Residential Burglary is a Class 1 Felony with a sentencing range of 4-15 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections.

Sentencing will be scheduled at a later date. The next court date is scheduled for May 14, 2012 at 1:30 in courtroom 316 in front of the Honorable Judge Ron White.



UPDATE: 5/8 : The Omarrian Jones murder trial is winding down. More than a hundred people waited all day to hear closing arguments.

It's been a long day in court, a long two weeks actually. Attorneys argued for hours this morning on how to instruct the jury on all 27 counts. Charges include everything from first degree murder to home invasion.

Prosecutors say Jones was on a mission on 7-8-9.

Defense attorneys say he's guilty of burglary, sure, but not murder.

You may recall Omarrian Jones's mom was also arrested at the time of the crime

Several of you have been asking us for an update on her charges. Here's what we found out:

Helen Jones was arrested back in 2009 for destroying evidence. Police say she got rid of a disposable camera that belonged to her son and flushed letters he had written to her down the toilet. In November she pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice. A judge demanded that she pay a fine and she was given a conditional jail sentence but never actually served any time.


UPDATE: 5/7 II: The man accused of brutally murdering an elderly couple speaks out for the first time today, telling his attorneys he "wants to be heard."

After several hours of testimony, Omarrian Jones told the jury he's the wrong man in custody.

Jones took the stand for nearly four hours today, describing himself as an avid runner, a professional thief, and anything but a murderer. The suspect says another man killed Ray and Leticia Cardino in July of 2009. Jones referred to the date as 7-8-9 and says the alleged murderer tried to choke him to death while he attempted to burglarize the couple's home. Jones said he cased the house for weeks and hid barefoot for several hours before coming out of hiding in the victim's basement, that's when he says he saw Leticia being killed by another man and ran back down stairs before he says he fought with the killer and at one point tried to take off the suspects rubber gloves for evidence.

Now as for the victim's son who testified that he walked into the house and heard Jones say "you're dead" before attacking him. Jones says that's not true and, in fact, he says he yelled "they're dead" before the victim's son tried to cut him with a knife. Jones also says he never bit the couple's son, saying the two fell down the stairs and his mouth ended up on his neck.

Jones says he took around 50 dollars to treat his mom: he purchased marijuana, pizza, and gasoline. Closing arguments are tomorrow morning.


UPDATE: 5/7: Omarrian Jones has taken the stand in his own defense.

Jones is accused of beating Rey and Leticia Cardino to death in their home in 2009.

Jones told the court he is a career burglar who cased out the Cardino house because of their age. He says when he went to rob the place, he saw somebody else in the home.

He says he hid in the basement and came upstairs to find this other person killing Leticia. Jones went on to testify when the Cardino's son, Reyle came to the house, he did not start the fight with him. Jones says Reyle attacked him with a knife.

We'll have more on Omarrian Jones's testimony Tonight on 23 News at 5.


UPDATE: 5/4: The state says they will rest in the case against a Rockford man accused of brutally murdering an elderly couple in 2009.

The defense for Omarrian Jones is expected to call witnesses for the first time. On Monday, the jury was sent home for the weekend and reminded to avoid any news related to the case. Jones is on trial for bludgeoning the Cardino couple in their home. Lawyers will spend the next two days determine what pieces of the 451 exhibits will be shown to jurors.

We spoke with the suspect's mother and sister who tell me they are expected to hit the Omarrian stand next week. They declined to comment on the case until they are examined.

UPDATE: 5/3: Today, numerous Rockford police detectives testified about how they finally caught Jones.

He is accused of murdering an elderly couple in their home in 2009. He was caught a week later after a foot chase near 20th and Harrison. At one point during the chase he hid inside the ceiling of a local business. Lawyers for the defense could start bringing their own witnesses as soon as tomorrow. It's unclear whether Jones will take the stand.


UPDATE: 5/2: Chilling testimony from the son of an elderly couple murdered in 2009. He took the stand in Omarrian Jones' trial today and told the court Jones killed his parents and beat him up when he walked in after their murders.

Reyle Cardino says when he walked into his parents home he saw Omarrian Jones standing in their kitchen and he thought he was going to die.

The son says Jones punched him in the head and choked him, threw stereo equipment at him, and left him to die

Cardino somehow made his way outside and flagged down a neighbor for help. This afternoon the jury saw gruesome photographs of the murdered couple, so gruesome the judge had televisions turned away from the public. Prosecutors said a pathologist would testify they were beaten with a hammer and strangled.

Defense attorneys tried to get many of those photos out of evidence but prosecutors argued they showed how brutal and heinous the crime was.

Prosecutors say they have recordings of Jones' phone conversations from jail from the end of April through yesterday. If he takes the stand they plan to use whatever he said on the phone to discredit him.


UPDATE: 5/1: Some potentially damaging testimony at the Omarrian Jones murder trial today: a forensic expert says Jones' DNA was on a ski mask found in Ray and Leticia Cardino's home.

Jones is accused of beating the elderly couple to death in their home in 2009. Experts say DNA and blood were found on a hammer and rubber gloves at the scene. Prosecutors showed photos of the house in total disarray. The victim's son says he walked in on the murderer and was beaten, but survived. He is also expected to testify.


UPDATE: 4/30: A ski mask found in the hood of a sweatshirt and photos of blood stained walls were just some of the items a jury saw today in the Omarrian Jones trial: he's accused of beating an elderly couple to death in their home in 2009.

It was pretty slow going today as prosecutors introduced lots of evidence. In just two days prosecutors have introduced boxes of photos and nearly 300 pieces of evidence.

Today, multiple detectives testified about what they found at the scene. Police said blood spatters on the ceiling and walls of the home were the result of blunt force trauma. At one point Jones asked the judge, over objections of his attorneys, if he could make a statement. He asked the judge to make sure the murder weapon--a hammer sitting near the prosecutors' table couldn’t be seen by the jury. His attorneys asked the judge to clear the courtroom first because they didn't know what he was going to say or if it was going to be damaging to the case, but it turns out he just wanted certain evidence covered so the jury couldn't sit and stare at it.

Defense attorneys pointed out that certain evidence, a bloody shoe print and hairs recovered from the victims' bodies, weren't sent to the crime lab--implying certain evidence should have been more carefully analyzed by police.

UPDATE 4/27: Opening arguments began in the case against Omarrian Jones. He's accused of stabbing an elderly couple in 2009.

The prosecution began with the victim's neighbor who dialed 911. Prosecutors then showed a video taken by the Rockford Police Department as they walked through the murder scene.

Family members of the victims cried as the watched and some had to remove themselves from the courtroom.

ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- Today marked day three of jury selection in the Omarrian Jones trial.

He's being charged with killing Rey and Leticia Cardino, who were in their 70s. Police say Jones beat them to death.

Jones lived nearby and was caught several days later. Getting to this point was quite difficult for prosecutors. Jones' attorney argued for months he wasn't fit to stand trial. But psychologists eventually determined he is mentally able to be tried for murder.

Eight jurors have already been picked and there are four more to go. Winnebago county state's attorney Joe Bruscato is personally prosecuting the case.


Original Story from July 9, 2009

ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- Police are investigating who killed Reynato and Leticia Cardino.

"The sweetest people in the world and I just can't believe someone would do something like that if you're going to rob them then rob them but you don't have to kill them," says Yvonne Pacula.

The murders of Reynato (77) and Leticia Cardino (75) are especially tough on Yvonne Pacula and her family. Because to them, the Cardinos weren't just neighbors, but close friends they called Grandma and Grandpa.
"They had open arms, they would welcome anybody over," says Christine Pacula.

"They'd help the neighborhood out, whatever you wanted, they'd help you out," says Walter Pacula.

The elderly couple's son discovered their bodies at around seven p.m. Wednesday. He told police he caught an intruder inside, Who then assaulted him to the point of hospitalization and then ran away.

"His face was all bloody, all he did was call out my name and say call 911 we just got robbed," says Walter Pacula
Police aren't saying how the suspect got in or out of the home and if he got away with anything.

"Investigations of this magnitude you start really broad and you narrow in as the investigation progresses and investigations take time there's a lot too them and there's a likelihood that we may keep the scene for another 24 hours," says Deputy Chief Greg Lindmark.

Police called in representatives from the Illinois State Crime Lab and are interviewing neighbors for clues. As for the Pacula's, they say this peach tree will serve as a daily reminder for them. Since it was a gift from the Cardinos. A gift that has yet to bloom.

Winnebago County Coroner Sue Fiduccia says the couple died from blunt force trauma to their bodies.


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