A Kent County jury deliberated about an hour on Wednesday before finding 20-year-old Marcus Bivins guilty of first-degree murder in the stabbing death of a homeless woman on the Grand Rapids Community College campus more than a year ago.
“Thank God. Justice has been served,’’ the mother of murder victim Jeanne Huntoon said after the verdict was announced.
Bivins showed no emotion as the verdict was read. He faces mandatory life in prison when he returns to Kent County Circuit Court for sentencing on Aug. 16.
Defense attorney John Grace asked that Bivins be found not guilty by reason of insanity. He told jurors that voices directed Bivins to plunge a knife into Huntoon’s neck the night of April 30, 2016.
“He said I’d do it again. He’s afraid of himself,’’ Grace said in closing arguments.
Nonsense, countered Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker.
Bivins killed the 34-year-old woman for the sake of killing. He knew what he was doing and concocted lies when police confronted him. When his alibis started to crack, Bivins decided to say he was under the control of ‘voices,’ Becker said.
“There is not a single, solitary piece of evidence’’ to suggest Bivins was insane at the time, Becker said in closing statements. A state psychologist determined that Bivins was not mentally ill, Becker said.
“You have the defendant admitting he caused the death. Intending to cause her death. Twisting the knife as she’s choking on her own blood,’’ Becker told jurors. “He appreciates the wrongfulness of his conduct; he knows what he did was wrong. But that didn’t stop him from doing it.’’
Huntoon’s body was found near a GRCC parking ramp on Bostwick Avenue NE. She was stabbed in the neck and dragged several feet from where the attack occurred.
An employee of Meijer contacted police after Bivins arrived at the store and admitted to killing someone.
During an interview with detectives, Bivins admitted to killing Huntoon, even providing a graphic description of the attack.
“She wasn’t dying quick enough, so I twisted the knife,’’ Bivins said in an interview with police. “I heard a whole bunch of stuff crack. She got to choking on her blood, so I walked away.’’
Family members say Huntoon, who was from Muskegon, dealt with homelessness from time to time. She was on a waiting list to get into a residential program offered by Mel Trotter Ministries in Grand Rapids. She spent many nights at Mel Trotter's shelter but decided not to go the night of the murder.
Debbie Huntoon, who attended each day of the trial, said her daughter would be pleased with the guilty verdict.
"Jeanne would say you got this; we've got this mom,'' Debbie Huntoon said outside of court. "And we’ve been waiting a long time. Finally.''
Life without parole is an appropriate fate for Bivins, she said.
"He can never hurt anybody again and God has a plan for him,’’ Debbie Huntoon said. “Rot in hell.’’
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