A Round Lake Park man accused of killing a Zion man because of the way he wore his hat pleaded not guilty in Lake County court Thursday.
Jose Rebollar-Verara, 25, of the 500 block of North Carol Lane, faces three counts of first-degree murder in the death of Gabriel Gonzalez, 19, in the early morning hours on March 10.
Rebollar-Verara could be sentenced up to 75 years in prison if found guilty.
A second defendant, Jose M. Garcia, 18, of the 600 block of Deepwoods Drive, Mundelein, was also due to be arraigned Thursday in front of Judge Christopher Stride, but his court date was postponed to give him time to hire an attorney.
Authorities said Gonzales entered the One Stop Food and Liquor store on the 1000 block of Fairfield Road in Round Lake Beach about 12:40 a.m. and met known gang members Garcia and Rebollar-Verara.
Garcia and Rebollar-Verara wrongly assumed Gonzales was in a gang and that Gonzales was wearing his baseball hat incorrectly, authorities said. After they asked him to put on his hat the way they wanted, Gonzales pushed past them and tried to leave, authorities said.
Garcia and Rebollar-Verara followed Gonzales into the parking lot, pulled out a .22-caliber handgun and fired 10 shots at Gonzales, authorities said. One bullet hit Gonzales in the back and pierced his aorta artery, killing him.
Officials said the two men confessed to the shooting but claimed they did not know Gonzales was not a gang member. Both remain in jail on $3 million bail.
State's Attorney Mike Nerheim assigned the case to the newly created gang prosecution unit headed by Assistant State's Attorney Reginald Mathews.
"We will vigorously pursue justice for this innocent killing," Nerheim said following Thursday's hearing.