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updated: 7/18/2013 4:44 PM

Gang member resentenced for fatal Mundelein attack

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  • Edwin Hernandez

      Edwin Hernandez

 
 

The prison sentence for an accused gang member who pleaded guilty to killing a 12-year-old Mundelein boy was cut by more than 20 years in Lake County court on Thursday.

Despite the reduction, Edwin Hernandez, now 21, will remain locked up until he is 76 years old for the murder that occurred when he firebombed the boy's Mundelein house as part of gang activity more than four years ago.

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An Illinois Appellate Court ruled earlier this year that Hernandez could not be sentenced to the 80 years in prison he initially received from Judge Daniel Shanes in 2011 for killing Jorge Juarez on May 9, 2009.

Assistant State's Attorney Dan Kleinhubert said the appellate court ruled Hernandez, formerly of the 800 block of Lange Street in Mundelein, was not eligible for an enhanced sentence of more than 60 years because he was acting on an order from a gang leader.

On Thursday, Shanes gave Hernandez a prison sentence of 59 years for throwing burning gasoline-filled beer bottles through the windows of the home in the 200 block of Prospect Avenue.

The maximum Hernandez could have received Thursday was 60 years.

"What you did was cold and heartless, and you act like you just don't care," Shanes told Hernandez during the resentencing hearing. "You behaved in a way that a civilized society simply cannot tolerate."

Authorities said Hernandez and his brother, Elver, went to the Prospect Avenue home of 19-year-old Raphael Juarez in the middle of the night, kicked out the windows of the car and house and threw molitov cocktails inside.

The firebombs ignited on the porch and first floor of the home, trapping Jorge, his sister, Virginia Juarez, and mother, Virginia Estrada, inside.

Jorge died of smoke inhalation from the fire, while Estrada was left paralyzed when she jumped from the second floor and struck an air-conditioning unit. His sister suffered severe burns to her back and arms in the blaze.

Police said Raphael Juarez was fighting with Hernandez and other gang leaders at the time of the attack, but was not in the house when the firebomb was thrown.

Both Hernandez brothers pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in connection with gang activity in 2011, and were offered lighter sentences in exchange for testifying against a third gang member. Both turned down the offer.

Elver Hernandez was sentenced to 84 years in prison on Aug. 15, 2011. That sentence is expected to stick because he was the one who gave the order to firebomb the house, Kleinhubert said.

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