An Aurora man could face the death penalty after pleading guilty Thursday to murdering an elderly war veteran in 2007.
Hector M. Mauricio, 24, of the 1100 block of Ridgeway Avenue, entered guilty pleas in Kane County to two counts of first-degree murder in the stabbing death of 83-year-old Roscoe Ebey of Aurora Township.
Prosecutors said Mauricio invaded Ebey's home about 2 a.m. on May 29, 2007, and brutally stabbed the World War II veteran multiple times. He was captured after one of Ebey's neighbors reached in through a basement window and yanked him out by the hair, then sat on him while another neighbor called police.
"I can honestly say, if this was not the worst case in my career, it was one of the worst," Kane County Sheriff Pat Perez, whose office investigated Ebey's murder, said Thursday. "Now the family can finally put this to rest."
Circuit Judge Timothy Q. Sheldon is scheduled to hear arguments Nov. 29 about whether Mauricio is eligible for the death penalty.
If so, he would face either life in prison or death. Otherwise, he faces 20 to 60 years in prison, prosecutors said.
Public Defender David Kliment, who represents Mauricio, did not respond to a phone message seeking comment.
Ebey's slaying prompted the creation of an award in his name handed out annually by the sheriff's office to a Good Samaritan.
Leslie Fleming, the neighbor who helped capture Mauricio, told the Daily Herald in 2007 that he saw Mauricio in Ebey's basement while investigating a suspicious sound outside. He said he only did "what anybody should do."
"He would have done it for me," Fleming, who could not be reached Thursday, said at the time. "Any one of the other neighbors would have done what I did, even for a stranger. Why wouldn't you do what I did? You can't expect people to help you if you wouldn't help them."
Relatives of Ebey also could not be reached for comment. Perez said he was "ecstatic" they will not have to face a painful trial.
"Those of us in the sheriff's office know the facts and the evidence that would have had to be produced at trial, and I was really, really, really dreading the family having to dredge that up," he said.
Mauricio has been held in the county jail since the killing on $6 million bail.