Man’s murder sentencing continued
By Janet Lundquist firstname.lastname@example.org February 25, 2013 3:48PM
Updated: March 27, 2013 6:17AM
An Elwood man facing life in prison for murder will spend another week in the county jail, as his sentencing hearing was delayed Monday.
A Will County jury convicted Lee K. Ponshe, 29, in December of killing Halli R. Burton, the 18-month-old daughter of Ponshe’s former fiancee, in April 2009.
Jessi Dunlap, of White Hall, a small town southwest of Springfield, met Ponshe on the Internet.
Ponshe’s sentencing — his conviction requires a mandatory life prison sentence because of the victim’s age, authorities said — was originally scheduled for Monday.
One of Ponshe’s attorneys, Gerald Kielian, was out of town on Monday. Ira Goldstein, Ponshe’s other attorney, said he could handle the hearing as well as arguments on Ponshe’s motion for a new trial, but Ponshe insisted on having Kielian present.
Judge Daniel Rozak scheduled Ponshe’s new trial and sentencing hearings for March 4.
In their motion for a new trial, which will be heard before the sentencing hearing, Kielian and Goldstein listed 22 reasons Ponshe did not get a fair shake before Rozak, including that the judge was “prejudiced and biased against defendant throughout trial.”
Prosecutors said Ponshe hit the toddler in the head and back after she woke up crying in the early morning of April 15, 2009, causing injuries that ultimately killed her.
Dunlap and her daughter had moved into Ponshe’s Elwood home days before the girl’s death.
Ponshe initially told police he didn’t touch Burton, but later admitted he hit her twice in the head, prosecutors said. Autopsy photos showed upward of 20 bruises covering the toddler’s scalp.