Police & Courts

Trial postponed for Quincy man charged in 2015 beating death

Derek McKenzie
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Nov. 29, 2017 7:15 pm Updated: Nov. 29, 2017 7:42 pm

QUINCY -- The Jan. 22 murder trial date for a Quincy man accused in the 2015 beating death of another Quincy man has been vacated, and a new date has not been set.

The move comes as Derek T. McKenzie's attorneys wait for confirmation that they will receive a grant to pay for a DNA expert. McKenzie, who faces two counts of first-degree murder, will return to court Jan. 2 for a status update.

One of McKenzie's attorneys, Public Defender John Clark, said Wednesday in Adams County Circuit Court that he knows the grant administered through the Illinois Criminal Justice Authority was under review.

"I know both sides are very frustrated with this," Clark said, referring to the delay with the grant. "We think it's imminent, but we don't know that."

Josh Jones, lead trial attorney for the Adams County state's attorney's office, said he understood that McKenzie's attorneys needed the report, but he reminded them that he would want it reviewed by the state's own experts before trial.

"I don't want to put it on a jury docket until they have the report," Jones said.

Judge Debra Wellborn noted that McKenzie has been in jail for nearly two years with no end in sight.

"This has been (continued) since August last year, and I don't want this to be August 2018 and doing this again," Wellborn said.

In June, Wellborn denied a request for public funds for a DNA expert. McKenzie's attorneys had already received approval to hire a forensic psychiatric expert.

Clark said he could consider renewing that request.

"I thought it was a fair request when I made it, but I was told it was not," he said.

McKenzie, 31, is charged in the Dec. 7, 2015, death of 48-year-old Billy Graham. McKenzie allegedly beat Graham with his fists and a metal clamp in an apartment above the former Izzey's Bar and Grill, 601 N. Fifth.

McKenzie pleaded not guilty Jan. 12, 2016.

He is being held in the Adams County Jail on $5 million bond.

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