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On August 4, 2022, Judge C. Robert Tobin found Juan Cerda, 49, of Capron, guilty of First Degree Murder for the 2018 murder of his wife, Kenia Acosta.
In the early morning hours of July 13, 2018, the Boone County Sheriff’s Department received 2 separate calls for a welfare check at the Capron Trailer Park on Route 173. When deputies entered the residence, they found Kenia Acosta lying on the floor in one of the bedrooms, and Juan Cerda lying face down on top of her. Paramedics determined that Kenia was already deceased. She had multiple stab wounds and cuts to her chest, arms and neck. A large knife and a box cutter were found nearby. An autopsy later revealed that Kenia’s cause of death was a stab wound that had penetrated her heart.
Juan Cerda had cuts on his arms, torso, and neck, but was still alive and transported to the hospital, where he was treated and released a couple of days later. Evidence gathered at the scene included a note that Cerda had left behind, asking for forgiveness and addressing who should have custody of their children. Evidence was also presented at trial that Cerda had sent text messages to a family member, referring to the note that he had left, and stating the reasons why he did it.
The bench trial before Judge Tobin began on May 2 and 3, 2022, with additional testimony and evidence presented on May 20, 2022. The defendant testified on July 27, 2022, claiming self-defense. The State and the Defense then presented closing arguments.
In rendering the verdict, Judge Tobin found that “the death of Kenia Acosta. . .was the result of an unsuccessful murder-suicide attempt by the defendant. This was the product of a well thought out plan that involved a laying-in-wait manner of execution.”
Juan Cerda faces a sentencing range of 20-60 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections for First Degree Murder. He will have to serve 100% of that sentence. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for September 16, 2022 at 2:00 p.m.
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