Jones appears to deny cabdriver murder accusations during initial appearance

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IOWA CITY — Curtis Jones appeared to deny accusations that he killed Ricky Lillie during his initial appearance Friday morning.

“This is the first I’ve heard of any of this,” Jones told 6th Judicial District Magistrate Karen Egerton.

Jones, 41, of Mount Pleasant was booked at the Johnson County Jail Thursday afternoon and appeared from the jail via closed circuit television Friday for his initial appearance on the charge of first-degree murder. Jones is accused of killing Lillie, a 46-year-old cabdriver from Iowa City, the evening of June 27.

Iowa City police said Jones was identified entering Lillie’s cab sometime around 11 p.m. June 27. The two then drove non-stop to the 500 block of Ernest Street, where Jones allegedly shot Lillie in the head. Lillie’s body was discovered during the early morning hours of June 28.

Jones told Egerton he has been “locked up for almost a month,” when asked to review the charges against him. That’s when he told her Friday was the first time he’d learned of the charges.

Jones also said he has been treated with “malice” at the Johnson County Jail and that he doesn’t “feel safe.” He did not say why he feels that way.

“These people already have me convicted,” he said.

Johnson County Sheriff’s Office Maj. Steve Dolezal said Jones has had no “major incidents” since being transferred to the jail; however, before being moved from the Washington County Jail, deputies found contraband in Jones’ mouth — part of a zip-tie with string wrapped around it — and took it from him.

“Because of that, Jones became argumentative during the booking process,” Dolezal said in an email. “However, the process was completed without incident.”

Egerton told Jones he would be assigned a public defender and set his bond at $1 million. He will have the right to argue for a lower bond should he choose to do so. Jones’ court date has not yet been set.

First-degree murder is a Class A felony punishable by life in prison.

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