A 40-year-old Aurora man faces life in prison after a Kane County jury Friday convicted him of gunning down two Montgomery brothers over a half-pound of cocaine in March 1993.
Michael J. Reyes was accused of shooting and killing his close friends Francisco and Jesus Montoya, 18 and 19, respectively, during a drug sale because he wanted nine grams of cocaine for himself.
Their bodies were found in their family's van the afternoon of March 9, 1993 on Aurora's east side.
"He did it over a quarter kilo(gram) of drugs. ... A senseless, heinous crime that until today has gone unsolved," Kane County First Assistant State's Attorney Jody Gleason, who prosecuted the case with Alex Bederka, told the jury in her closing argument.
During the weeklong trial, prosecutors relied on testimony from several gang members -- nabbed in a 2007 sting -- who later cut deals for shorter sentences in exchange for testifying against Reyes, who is serving a 37-year sentence for an attempted murder in 2000 in Kane County.
Assistant Public Defender Julia Yetter challenged the credibility of the witnesses, saying their details of the shootings contradicted what happened, and that each witness had a motive when taking the stand. Some convicts were angry they were shut out by their gang and feared for their safety, others were facing long prison terms.
"There is no stronger motivation that self-preservation," Yetter said.
One witness testified Reyes told him and another man he killed the Montoyas, but that was impossible because the other man was in federal prison on the day the supposed conversation took place. Another said he talked to Reyes at 10 a.m. after a horde of police cars swarmed South Spencer Street, but the bodies weren't discovered until 2 p.m. that day. Finally, another witness said he heard from Reyes one of the victims sustained a defensive gunshot wound on his left hand, but it was the right hand that was wounded.
Gleason argued that witnesses knew details about the crime that were not public knowledge, such as Francisco being shot twice and Jesus shot three times.
Reyes was charged with the murder in 2007 after a joint investigation by Aurora Police, the FBI, Kane County prosecutors and other agencies into 20 unsolved murders.
"The citizens of Aurora told all of us who work in public safety that they no longer would tolerate the violence that dominated their streets and neighborhoods for decades. We listened in no uncertain terms," said Kane County State's Attorney Joe McMahon, who credited Gleason and Bederka along with Aurora police and FBI agents for working the cases in Operation First Degree Burn.
Reyes will be sentenced April 10.
The jury deliberated less than three hours.