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posted: 9/17/2012 5:09 PM

20 years for second person guilty in Elgin backpack murder

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  • Christopher Peralta

      Christopher Peralta

  • Joshua Dunbar

      Joshua Dunbar

 
 

An 18-year from Elgin was sentenced to 20 years in prison Monday after pleading guilty to his role in an attack in which a Larkin High School student was stabbed and killed over a backpack.

Jury selection was about to begin for Christopher D. Peralta, of the 200 block of Crystal Street, for the murder of Edgar Guerra-Guzman, 16, when Peralta pleaded guilty to first-degree murder.

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In exchange for the plea, which was accepted by Judge Timothy Sheldon, prosecutors dropped armed robbery and attempted armed robbery charges against him.

He'd been held in the Kane County jail for nearly two years while his case was pending.

Peralta could have faced up to 60 years in prison.

A second defendant in the case, Joshua Dunbar, who was 19 at the time of the murder, is serving a 25-year prison term.

Dunbar, 21, of the 600 block of Margaret Place, was convicted in early 2011 of stabbing Guzman.

During his trial, Dunbar testified that he and Peralta were out drinking on a weekend in May 2010 and went to buy cigarettes because Dunbar was older than 18 and Peralta was still 16.

Prosecutors said that around midnight May 22, 2010, Dunbar and Peralta were walking through a park on the city's near west side when Peralta donned a black ski mask and the pair attempted to rob two others of their backpacks.

Dunbar testified during his trial that a struggle ensued and Dunbar accidentally stabbed Guzman, who died from a wound to his heart.

Prosecutors argued that Peralta knowingly participated in the robbery that resulted in Guerra-Guzman's death.

"It is our hope that this sentence will allow Edgar Guerra-Guzman's family to begin to find a sense of peace after his violent, senseless and tragic death," said Kane County State's Attorney Joe McMahon said. "Mr. Peralta's prison sentence of 20 years should send a clear message that although he did not stab young Edgar, Mr. Peralta and Mr. Dunbar planned this robbery together. Because of that, under the law, Mr. Peralta does bear great responsibility for this murder."

Defense attorney William Gibbs could not be reached for comment.

Peralta must serve 100 percent of his sentence.

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