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updated: 1/9/2014 6:12 PM

Judge to allow confession video in murder case

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  • Jose Garcia

      Jose Garcia

 
 

The defense for a Mundelein man accused of murdering a Zion teen over the way he wore his hat was dealt a trio of defeats in Lake County court Thursday.

Judge Daniel Shanes denied two motions and portions of a third filed on behalf of Jose Garcia, 19, of Mundelein, that claimed police lied and threatened the known gang member to force him to confess to the March 10 murder of Gabriel Gonzalez, 19, outside of a Round Lake Beach store.

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Shanes ruled police did not illegally search and confiscate evidence from Garcia just before his arrest and after the shooting outside of the One Stop Food and Liquor Store on Fairfield Road. He also ruled the murder charges against Garcia should not be dismissed due to a faulty recording of a surveillance video outside the store that may have captured the killing.

Shanes also ruled video of Garcia's police interrogation and confession could be played to a jury should the case go to trial as expected Feb. 3.

Defense attorney James Schwarzbach tried to argue through motions that Garcia's confession should not be admissible because it was coerced by police.

Schwarzbach has said police pushed Garcia to admit to the shooting by pointing out that if he didn't, there could be backlash from his own gang for allowing a higher ranking gang member to take responsibility for the murder.

Schwarzbach also contends police threatened to withhold police protection for Garcia's family should there be any potential gang retaliation for not accepting responsibility.

However, Shanes said police were simply pointing out gang retaliation was a possibility in the situation.

"The police did not threaten (Garcia)," he ruled. "They simply -- albeit forcibly -- explained the consequences of what could happen."

Shanes also ruled Garcia waived his Miranda rights before confessing to the murders to police, and that items seized as evidence were confiscated from Garcia, not through an illegal search of his apartment, as Schwarzbach argued.

Authorities said Garcia and co-defendant Jose Rebollar-Vergara, 25, of the 500 block of North Carol Lane in Round Lake Park, wrongly assumed Gonzales was a gang member and was wearing his hat incorrectly when he entered the store.

The pair confronted Gonzalez, who pushed past them into the parking lot, authorities said. They followed him outside, and one pulled out a .22-caliber handgun and fired at Gonzales, authorities said. He died when one bullet hit him in the back and pierced his aorta.

Schwarzbach said the video is faulty and unclear about who fired the gun, but prosecutors and defense attorneys for Rebollar-Vergara say Garcia was the shooter.

Shanes ruled Schwarzbach will be able to have a surveillance video expert testify the video may be flawed, should prosecutors show the video of the shooting during trial.

Garcia and Rebollar-Vergara have been charged with murder and remain jailed in lieu of $3 million bail. Garcia is due back in court Jan. 14.

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