A former Hanover Park man charged with murder in the 2001 death of a drinking partner said Wednesday he acted in self-defense.
Testifying in a Rolling Meadows courtroom, Jose Camacho, 45, said 28-year-old Flavio Venāncio threatened him with a knife on May 24, 2001, after both men had been drinking. Camacho said he and Venāncio met that day and spent several hours drinking together at the Hanover Park apartment where Venāncio lived. When the alcohol ran out, Venāncio suggested they buy more and asked Camacho to drive, Camacho testified.
Camacho said Venāncio urged him to drive faster, so he complied. When Venāncio told him he had to pick up a package of drugs in Chicago, Camacho refused.
"I said I don't get into those things," he testified through an interpreter.
Venāncio insisted and grabbed the wheel, causing Camacho to lose control of his red Mitsubishi Eclipse and crash into a guardrail near the Schaumburg Metra station.
The two men exited the car to inspect the damage, said Camacho, adding he took a pen and some papers from his glove box to make an insurance claim. Outside the car, Venāncio again insisted they drive to Chicago, grabbed Camacho's shirt and said, "Let's go," Camacho said.
At that point, Camacho said Venāncio produced a knife and began moving toward him. Venāncio slipped and dropped the knife which Camacho testified he grabbed and threw away. They began fighting, both men with their hands on each other's throats, Camacho said. Attempting to find something with which to hit Venāncio, Camacho pulled the pen from his pocket and began striking at Venāncio. By this time, they had made their way to a retention pond near the train station, he said.
Camacho testified Venāncio fell into the pond and stopped fighting. He said he then pulled the man to the shore and pushed on his stomach "because I saw him spitting out water."
Camacho testified he left the scene when he saw Venāncio's arm move because, "I knew when he came to, he would attack me again." He said when he left, Venāncio was alive.
Eventually, Camacho fled to Mexico, leaving his damaged car at the Carol Stream construction company where he worked. Schaumburg police located him in Mexico in 2011 and extradited him in February 2012.
Prosecutors challenged Camacho's version. They say, Camacho stabbed Venāncio with a pen and strangled him after Venāncio made fun of his driving.
A mosquito abatement employee found Venāncio's body on May 25, 2001. Schaumburg police found the victim lying face down in shallow water, his eyes swollen shut, hands clenched, with stab marks to his face and upper body.
Cook County Assistant Medical Examiner Scott Denton cited drowning as the cause of death, with strangulation and multiple stab wounds as contributing factors. Denton testified he observed blunt trauma to Venāncio's neck, defensive wounds on his left arm, and small round impressions on his body that could have been made by a pen. He further testified that he recovered a broken section of a pen lodged near the back of the victim's nose, near the sinus cavity.
Denton testified he found mud in Venāncio's trachea, esophagus, lungs and stomach which contained about 200 cubic centimeters, the equivalent of a half can of pop, in the Venāncio's stomach. The discovery, he said, was "consistent with a person struggling while lying face down in mud."
Testimony resumes in the case on Thursday.