Public Safety

Kendu Petties found guilty of first-degree murder

Linn County jury rules in death of Sierrah Simmons, Quintrell Perkins

Kendu Petties waits in the courtroom before his murder trial at Linn County District Court in Cedar Rapids on Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017. Petties faces two counts of first-degree murder for the deaths of Quintrell Perkins and Sierrah Simmons in 2014. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
Kendu Petties waits in the courtroom before his murder trial at Linn County District Court in Cedar Rapids on Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017. Petties faces two counts of first-degree murder for the deaths of Quintrell Perkins and Sierrah Simmons in 2014. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Nearly three years after 11 shots rang out into the night, piercing a home and claiming the lives of Sierrah Simmons and Quintrell Perkins, the man police said was responsible for their deaths has been found guilty.

A Linn County jury on Monday morning found Kendu Petties, 32, guilty of two counts of first-degree murder and one count of conspiracy to commit a forcible felony. Jurors had been deliberating the case since late Wednesday. The trial started Feb. 15.

Petties was accused of shooting Simmons, 20, and Perkins, 22, both of Cedar Rapids, on April 2, 2014. The two were at 1708 Fourth Ave. SE — the home of Perkins’ father — with two friends and two children.

Assistant Linn County Attorney Nick Maybanks said there’s always a sense of uneasiness when a case goes to the jury. He credited a strong defense mounted by Petties’ lawyer, Sara Smith.

“Experience tells us that verdicts are hard to predict,” Maybanks said.

Now, there’s a sense of relief, not only for himself and fellow Assistant County Attorney Monica Slaughter, but for the Cedar Rapids Police Department and the families of Simmons and Perkins, he said.

“They deserve to have some peace and take another step toward closure,” Maybanks said.

During the trial, testimony was presented that Petties fired 11 times into the home from the outside the residence. Simmons and Perkins were not Petties’ intended targets. Witnesses told police Petties thought he was shooting at two men who were known to hang around the residence.

One of the bullets hit Simmons in the neck and head region as she was sitting on a couch in the living room, according to testimony. Perkins, who was seated across from her, was hit once in the chest.

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“The fact that two young lives were lost was not lost upon investigators who persistently worked this case since April 2014,” said Cedar Rapids Police Chief Wayne Jerman. “We are appreciative of the assistance and successful prosecution by the Linn County Attorney’s Office. Our thoughts remain with the families of the victims.”

According to a police interview played for the jury, Petties said he was innocent and not in Iowa at the time of the fatal shootings. Petties was living in Mesa, Ariz., when he was arrested on a warrant in 2015.

First-degree murder is a Class A felony punishable by an automatic life sentence.

l Comments: (319) 398-8238; lee.hermiston@thegazette.com

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