Woman pleads not guilty in fatal East Moline stabbing

(Rock Island County, IL) -- A woman accused in a fatal December stabbing in East Moline has pleaded not guilty.

According to online court records, 21 year old Precious Sims appeared in Rock Island County Circuit Court on Tuesday via video arraignment and waived her right to a preliminary hearing. During a preliminary hearing, a judge heard testimony to determine whether there is enough probable cause to move the case forward. Judges don't determine a defendant’s guilt or innocence at these hearings.

Sims will be back in court February 12th for a pretrial conference, with a trial tentatively scheduled for March 1st. Sims and her co-defendant, 60 year old Kerry Clark, are charged with first-degree murder and possession of a stolen motor vehicle. Clark, who is representing himself, has also pleaded not guilty.

East Moline Police Detective Logan Wolfe, who testified at Clark’s preliminary hearing January 12th, said that officers were called to a home in the 800 block of Avenue of the Cities just after 8:00 the morning of December 18th for an assist ambulance call.

Police say the homeowner, 64 year old Rodney Griffin, was found by a co-worker who had come to check on him when he did not show up for work that morning. Griffin was found just inside the front door with apparent stab wounds on his body. Officers noted there was a large amount of blood and the home appeared to be in disarray.

Detectives interviewed Griffin’s family and learned that he lived alone and did not have many friends or associates. They also told detectives he always kept the doors locked and, if there was no forced entry into the home, he must have known the suspect or suspects or at least opened the door for them. Detectives also learned Griffin’s vehicle was missing.

Police put out a “be on the lookout” (BOLO) alert, with police later finding the car in Davenport with Clark and Sims inside. Clark, when interviewed by East Moline police, did not give a statement and requested an attorney. Officers noted he had lacerations on both index fingers.

Sims told police she and Clark were living at the Humility of Mary Shelter in Davenport and that she and Griffin knew each other. Police say Sims said on the night of December 17th, she and Clark rode a city bus to Griffin’s home to steal money from him.

Sims told police she knocked on the door and asked if she could come in. Sims said Griffin told her no because she had Clark with her. She told police Griffin tried to close the door, but Clark forced it open, and he and Sims went inside. Clark and Griffin began to fight, and Sims said Clark told her to get him a knife.

She said she got two steak knives from the kitchen and gave one to Clark before stabbing Griffin in the back. Sims said Clark then began to stab Griffin repeatedly and hit him in the head several times with a wooden board broken from a piece of furniture during the struggle.

Sims told police she and Clark demanded money, and Griffin said he would give it to them, but they needed to go to a bank. She said Griffin eventually died from his injuries.

Sims estimated Clark stabbed Griffin approximately 20 times in the chest and other areas. She said Clark tried to clean up with bleach and another cleaner while she found Griffin’s car keys in his pocket and $5 in his wallet.

Sims said she went to the garage to start the car, and when she came back, Clark was gone. She told police she drove Griffin’s car to a liquor store in Davenport and bought alcohol with the money she took from him. Sims said she returned to the shelter the next morning and had contact with Clark, who told her police had found Griffin and that they needed to ditch his car.

They were taken into custody while trying to get rid of it, she told police.

During the interview, Sims said she was wearing the same clothes she was wearing the night before, except for a coat that she left at the shelter. She said there was blood on the sleeve of the coat. Detectives searched the shelter and located the coat in her living area, as well as several clothing items that had possible blood and bleach stains on them in Clark’s living area.

Police also collected video surveillance from various businesses, including MetroLink, which showed the pair arriving in East Moline via bus and Clark later riding the bus to Rock Island alone.

An autopsy performed on Griffin found that he died of multiple stab wounds. The trauma to his head also caused a skull fracture, Wolfe testified.

Clark will be back in court on January 29th for a pretrial conference. A trial is tentatively scheduled for February 16th. Sims and Clark remain in the Rock Island County Jail on a $1.5 million bail each.

(Photo by KWQC / Scott County Sheriff's Office)

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