Lilly found guilty of 1st degree murder
Jury recommends no mercy in sentencing
PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (WTAP) - A rare show of emotion Thursday among two families: one, the family of the man convicted of murder. and the other, the family of the victim.
Members of the families of Chester Robert Lilly III and Travis Peters shared a hug, after a jury determined Lilly should not receive mercy, two hours after Lilly was convicted of first-degree murder in Peters’ death on June 18, 2019.
“My family is wrought with mental issues, and I feel like it’s my fault,” Lilly’s mother, Tammy, said on the witness stand in the mercy phase of his trial, “that I brought my children into this world, and I’ve cursed them something like that.”
Both the defendant and the victim were described as having medical issues: Lilly had seizures as a child, made worse by medication prescribed to treat those seizures. His mother added Lilly attempted suicide as a teenager.
Peters, meantime, suffered what his mother described as a traumatic brain injury from a 2011 ATV accident.
“He was in the hospital with a coma in Morgantown for over a month,” said Peters’ mother, Marcella Waldron. “He had to learn to walk and talk and brush his teeth and shave. He had to learn to do everything over; he was like a baby.”
Lilly, meantime, had previous convictions, including one involving attempted murder.
“He’s been previously convicted of malicious assault,” said Heather Nicholson, Assistant Wood County Prosecutor. “He also had been previously convicted of third-degree sexual abuse, and the victim of that was a minor.”
While the jury was deliberating on the criminal charges, Lilly’s attorney, Joe Munoz, unsuccessfully made a motion for a mistrial, regarding a telephone conversation between Lilly and his fiancee, played to the jury Wednesday while Lilly was on the witness stand. The recording was not admitted into evidence.
The conversation was made while Lilly was in jail after his arrest. Prosecutors described the recording as a “jail call”. In asking to hear the recording again during Thursday’s deliberations, jurors described it as happening while Lilly “was in prison”. That prompted Munoz to suggest jurors were exposed to information about Lilly’s incarceration, possibly prejudicial to their belief he is innocent before he stands trial.
“The statement was made in front of the trial jury,” Munoz said. “The trial jury clearly heard it, has asked a question to the court and the parties after they began deliberations.”
“It was simply communications from the time he was arrested to until before trial,” Prosecuting Attorney Pat Lefebure responded, adding the jury knew Lilly turned himself into police the day after Peters’ death.
It’s an issue that could be argued again, in a possible appeal of Thursday’s verdict.
The jury in the trial of Chester Lilly III has recommended no mercy for his sentencing.
Lilly was convicted of fatally stabbing 40-year-old Travis Peters in June of 2019.
The jury deliberated the case for around 5 hours Thursday before coming back with a guilty verdict on a first-degree murder charge for Lilly.
In a second phase of the deliberations, the jury then decided to not recommend mercy in the sentencing.
Sentencing is set for October 4, 2021 in Wood County Court.
Lilly faces the possibility of life in prison without mercy.
A jury has found Chester Lilly III guilty of first-degree murder Thursday afternoon.
Lilly was being tried in connection with the death of 40-year-old Travis Peters.
Police said Lilly stabbed Peters multiple times during an argument in June of 2019. Peters’ body was found on the ground next to his home on the 2800-block of Avery Street.
Lilly took the stand Wednesday. He claims that he stabbed Peters in self-defense.
Lilly also said that he feared for his life when he fled the scene, saying Peters threatened to shoot him.
The jury now begins a separate phase in the trial to decide whether to recommend mercy in the sentencing.
That phase of the trial is set to start Thursday afternoon.
Todd Baucher is in the courtroom and will have more on the case as it happens.
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