A Lake County judge has denied a motion to dismiss murder charges against a Round Lake Park gang member in the shooting of a Zion teen, despite the defense attorney's claims police misled grand jurors in the case.
In his ruling Monday, Lake County Judge Daniel Shanes said there was enough evidence against Jose Rebollar-Vergara, 25, to warrant a trial.
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"The evidence showed that Mr. Rebollar (-Vergara) started the fight, even if the co-defendant finished it," Shanes explained. "There is sufficient probable cause for the grand jury to return an indictment against Mr. Rebollar (-Vergara)."
Defense attorneys had argued first-degree murder charges were filed against Rebollar-Vergara after police gave inaccurate statements to a Lake County grand jury claiming Rebollar-Vergara confessed to the crime.
Defense attorney Sharmila Manak also said officers testified to grand jurors that Rebollar-Vergara flashed gang signs before the shooting of Gabriel Gonzalez, 19, outside of the One Stop Food and Liquor on Fairfield Road in Round Lake Beach.
Because of those incorrect statements, she said, grand jurors were mislead into charging Rebollar-Vergara with first-degree murder.
"There is nothing more inaccurate than telling the grand jury that (Rebollar-Vergara) confessed to the shooting," Manak said. "You saw the evidence, judge, and that's clearly not what happened."
Rebollar-Vergara, of the 500 block of North Carol Lane, and Jose Garcia, 18, of the 600 block of Deepwoods Drive in Mundelein, each face three counts of first-degree murder in Gonzalez's slaying.
Authorities said Gonzalez entered the liquor store on the 1000 block of Fairfield Road at 12:40 a.m. on March 10, and was met by Garcia and Rebollar-Vergara.
Garcia and Rebollar-Vergara wrongly assumed Gonzalez was in a gang and confronted him about a past altercation, authorities said, but Gonzalez pushed past them and left the store.
Garcia and Rebollar-Vergara followed Gonzalez to the parking lot, where a video shows Rebollar-Vergara walking toward Gonzalez, as the Zion teen backed up.
At some point, one of the defendants pulled out a .22-caliber handgun and fired at Gonzalez, authorities said. One bullet hit Gonzalez in the back and pierced his aorta, killing him.
Manak and prosecutor Reginald Mathews said Garcia fired the weapon that killed Gonzalez, but attorneys for Garcia say it is unclear who pulled the trigger.
If found guilty of first-degree murder, Rebollar-Vergara could be sentenced up to 75 years in prison.
Both sides are due back in court Oct. 15 for pretrial.