Daily Herald - Suburban Chicago's source for news This copy is for personal, non-commercial use. To order presentation-ready copies for distribution you can: 1) Use the "Reprint" button found on the top and bottom of every article, 2) Visit reprints.theygsgroup.com/dailyherald.asp for samples and additional information or 3) Order a reprint of this article now.
Article updated: 12/2/2011 5:47 PM

Sentence question holds up plea in Mount Prospect killing

By Barbara Vitello

Fifteen months after Mount Prospect police charged Marko Guardiola, 38, and Edwin Paniagua, 17, with first-degree murder in the July 21, 2010, stabbing death of Jean Wattecamps, Guardiola was prepared to plead guilty.

Guardiola also intended to plead guilty to charges of home invasion and armed robbery, said his attorney, Cook County Assistant Public Defender Jim Mullenix, who during a hearing Friday before Cook County Judge Kay Hanlon, requested a conference with her and Cook County prosecutors to determine an appropriate sentence.

Mullenix said that his client did not intend to ask prosecutors to amend or dismiss any of the charges, but Cook County Assistant State's Attorney Mike Clarke declined to participate, saying a plea conference is appropriate only when both sides have reached a substantial agreement regarding the sentence.

"That is not the case," he said.

Mullenix told the court he requested an offer from prosecutors several months ago, but did not get a response.

"I thought I was doing everyone a favor," said Mullenix, who said he believes a 30- to 35-year sentence is appropriate.

Clarke did not say what sentence he thought was appropriate, only that he and Mullenix did not agree.

A first-degree murder conviction carries a sentence of 20 to 60 years in prison. A defendant must complete the entire sentence before he or she is eligible for parole.

"I must say, I'm a bit frustrated. No one is speaking or talking," said Hanlon.

The judge reminded Mullenix that his client could enter a blind plea, accepting whatever sentence is handed down. However, Mullenix said Guardiola was not prepared to enter such a plea at this time.

Police say Guardiola and Paniagua became acquainted with Wattecamps, 52, at the swimming pool at the apartment complex where Wattecamps had lived for six years. Police discovered the victim on July 22, 2010, after a relative called concerned that Wattecamps had not shown up to his job as a baggage manager for American Airlines at O'Hare International Airport.

Guardiola, who authorities say was a gang member with an extensive criminal background next appears in court on Dec. 13. Paniagua, who was 15 when he was arrested and has no criminal history, is being charged as an adult. He next appears in court on Jan. 18.

Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.