A reputed gang member was sentenced Monday to 29 years in prison for shooting two people during a home invasion in unincorporated Glen Ellyn.
James Kral, 22, had faced up to 60 years after pleading guilty in October to attempted murder and home invasion.
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Authorities said the Glen Ellyn man was one of three masked intruders who entered a Busch Road home early Oct. 23, 2009, expecting to find a "significant amount of marijuana." They said Kral bound two occupants with duct tape while the other suspects searched unsuccessfully for drugs.
The gunfire erupted when one of Kral's accomplices kicked open a bedroom door and was shot by a homeowner lying in wait. Kral then shot the other two victims, a man and a woman in their 20s, according to prosecutors.
One of the victims, Samantha Rigali, testified Monday about being shot in the eye. She said she can still remember the sound of gunfire and intense pain.
"I was so terrified we were going to die, I didn't move," she said. "I thank God every day that I'm alive."
Neither victim could describe the shooter in detail because he was wearing a bandanna over his face. But police found Kral's hand print on the tape binding the victims, and one of his accomplices identified him as the trigger man.
Kral had tried unsuccessfully to withdraw his guilty plea. When given the chance to address the court Monday, he turned to Rigali and denied shooting her.
"It wasn't me. I didn't do this to you," said Kral, who told the judge he "turned my life over to Jesus Christ."
DuPage County Prosecutors Joe Lindt and Steve Knight described Kral as a violent member of the Latin Kings street gang in seeking a 60-year term.
But Judge George Bakalis said he hoped Kral could be rehabilitated, given his limited criminal history and glowing testimony about his character from his mother and a family friend.
"It seems like we're talking about two different people," Bakalis said. "I like to think there is some hope for rehabilitation at some point."
One of Kral's accomplices, 20-year-old Alejandro Roman of Chicago, pleaded guilty last year to home invasion and was sentenced to 14 years.
Police said they have identified a third suspect, but he has not been charged.