Jose Camacho, convicted in November of first-degree murder in the 2001 death of a Hanover Park man, was sentenced to 32 years in prison Thursday by Cook County Judge Kay Hanlon.
Defense attorney Deana Binstock had requested the minimum sentence of 20 years for Camacho, formerly of Hanover Park.
She argued that Camacho acted in self-defense and never intended to kill 28-year-old Flavio Venancio, whom Camacho met for the first time on May 24, 2001, when the two men spent several hours drinking beer together.
Prosecutors, however, insisted that "anger and anger alone" fueled Camacho, who choked, stabbed and drowned the victim, who was found May 25, 2001, in a retention pond near the Schaumburg Metra station.
Assistant State's Attorney Mike Clarke argued for a substantial sentence citing the brutality of the murder and referencing the amount of water and mud the victim swallowed and a broken pen lodged inside his nasal cavity.
"The only evidence to suggest self-defense came from the self-serving statement of the defendant," Clarke said.
Binstock, however, described Camacho as a "hardworking, industrious individual … who because of alcohol found himself in a very bad way."
"This wasn't an intentional or knowing murder," said the assistant public defender, who claimed Camacho acted in self-defense after an intoxicated Venancio -- whose blood alcohol content registered nearly three times the legal limit -- attacked him with a knife after the two had a minor accident while driving Camacho's car.
Camacho admitted the two men fought, but said when he left, Venancio was alive. Camacho subsequently fled to Mexico and was extradited to Chicago in 2012.
In announcing her verdict, Hanlon acknowledged Camacho's lack of criminal history but also referenced the "extremely violent" nature of the murder as well as the defendant's flight from justice.
"After this murder you left the country for many, many years," she said. "You went on with your life in Mexico."
A visibly upset Camacho expressed remorse.
"I feel sorry for his family. I feel sorry for my family as well," he said through an interpreter. "I never had any intention of killing anyone."
"Something is clear to me," he concluded, "the enemy is alcohol."
Camacho received credit for his 859 days in custody. He must serve his full sentence before he is eligible for release.