A Waukegan resident, Timothy D. Triplett, Jr., pleaded not guilty Tuesday, June 8, 2021, to multiple counts of first-degree murder; and was told that the Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office has given notice that it will seek life in prison if he is convicted for his alleged role in a Beach Park double homicide.
Timothy D. Triplett’s public defender, Jillian Kassel, entered not guilty pleas to six counts of first-degree murder, and also told the court Triplett has decided to represent himself in the murder case, after attempts to hire a private attorney apparently failed due to lack of funds.
Triplett had already pleaded guilty to two counts of murder, but was arraigned again on six counts Tuesday under a “superseding indictment.”
The state must provide official notice to a defendant when it is seeking natural life.
Lake County Circuit Judge Mark Levitt told Triplett that the state has now fulfilled that notice requirement. “The state is giving you notice. If convicted, it will be seeking natural life in prison,” Levitt said. Prosecuting the case are assistant state’s attorneys Lauren Callinan and Lauren Walker.
The charges against Triplett include murder encompassing two victims, and allege that he personally discharged a firearm during the murders.
The case involves a double homicide in which a Beach Park married couple, Carlos Rodas Perez and Mercedes Rodas, were shot to death in their West Wadsworth Road garage on Dec. 8, 2020.
In a virtual court session held Tuesday morning on Zoom, Levitt asked Triplett about his search for a private attorney. When Triplett responded money was an issue, Levitt said Triplett is currently being represented by an “outstanding” attorney in Kassel, and that the case would not be held up over representation.
The pro se request came up publicly after Triplett had been taken from the jail’s virtual court area and refused to return from jail following a break in the hearing. Kassel told Levitt that Triplett said he now wants to represent himself in court.
Levitt responded that “it’s his absolute right” to represent himself, and it would be discussed at Triplett’s next appearance, which has been scheduled for Aug. 10, 2021.
Triplett is being held in jail on $5 million bail, as is a co-defendant, Derenell Hill, 35, of Waukegan, who is also charged with first-degree murder in the case.
According to the Lake County Sheriff’s Office, on the night of Dec. 8, deputies were dispatched to a residence on the 1000 block of West Wadsworth Road for a “person down.” When the officers arrived, they found Perez, 52, and Rodas, 49, in the garage with gunshot wounds. Life-saving efforts by the deputies at the scene were unsuccessful, and both were pronounced dead at the scene.
During an ongoing investigation, Triplett was arrested in January 2021, and charged with two counts of first-degree murder. Hill was arrested March 4, 2021 for driving on a revoked license. As part of the homicide investigation, a search warrant was executed at an apartment where Hill had recently been staying and detectives found a firearm that belonged to Carlos Rodas Perez.
Facts of the investigation were presented to the Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office and Hill was charged with two counts of first-degree murder. His next court appearance is scheduled Aug. 11.
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