Luis Villavicencio-Serna was old enough to pull the trigger when he fatally shot another teen, but he wasn't mature enough to see how senseless it was, a judge said Tuesday.
"Now he's going to grow old in prison," DuPage County Judge Daniel Guerin said in sentencing him to 50 years.
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Villavicencio-Serna was 18 when he shot Addison Trail High School senior Armando Huerta Jr., who was gunned down from behind less than a month before his high school graduation.
On Tuesday, Guerin said he believed prosecutors' theory that the defendant drove from his home in Chicago and essentially ambushed the 18-year-old victim for calling Villavicencio-Serna's girlfriend early one morning.
"The defendant's motive is as old as time, I suppose, but his means are very modern and deadly," Guerin said.
A jury convicted Villavicencio-Serna in March, and he faced a minimum sentence of 45 years because a gun was involved. He is appealing the verdict and maintains he is innocent, his attorney said.
Prosecutors said the defendant fired at Huerta from a car as Huerta fled unarmed through a parking lot outside his home on Dale Drive in Addison.
The killing unfolded after Huerta contacted Villavicencio-Serna's girlfriend, then a 16-year-old runaway who lived in the same apartment building as the victim and had briefly dated him.
At trial, three onetime witnesses, including the girlfriend, recanted recorded statements to police that the defendant opened fire in a jealous rage. But prosecutors contended Villavicencio-Serna threatened them, saying "I'll shoot you like I shot that guy" if they cooperated with authorities.
On Tuesday, First Assistant State's Attorney Nancy Wolfe sought 70 years for the defendant, saying he had "no regard for human life."
"He was ready and willing and, as soon as he saw him (Huerta), he pulled out the gun and delivered the fatal shot," said Wolfe, who prosecuted the case with Mary Cronin and Romas Mockaitis.
Assistant Public Defender George Ford argued Villavicencio-Serna was a young man with minimal criminal history, and that trial evidence showed the killing itself wasn't "cold and calculated."
He said the minimum 45 years would still deter others from committing a similar crime.
"That is sufficient enough punishment," Ford argued.
Villavicencio-Serna declined to make a statement in court on the advice of his attorney but he smiled widely as he was led off afterward by sheriff's deputies.
By law, he must serve a full 50 years. Prosecutors said he also will serve three years of parole in prison before being deported because he is an illegal immigrant from Mexico. With credit for time served, that means Villavicencio-Serna would be about 71 before he's eligible for release.