A Round Lake Park man rejected a plea deal Thursday that would have sent him to prison for about five years for his involvement in the murder of a Zion teen last March.
Jose Rebollar-Vergara, 25, of the 500 block of Carol Lane, also asked Lake County Judge Daniel Shanes if he could hire a private attorney for his case. Rebollar-Vergara has been represented by the public defender's office since he was charged in the murder of Gabriel Gonzalez, 19, of Zion.
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Shanes set a Jan. 22 hearing to determine whether Rebollar-Vergara will hire his own attorney.
In court, Shanes said the Lake County State's Attorney's Office offered Rebollar-Vergara a deal that would have reduced his charges from three counts of murder to one count of armed violence.
Under that deal, Rebollar-Vergara would have been sentenced to 15 years in prison, but would need to serve only 50 percent of the sentence.
With credit for time served and possible good time credit, he could have been released from prison in about five years, authorities said.
Prosecutors will now try Rebollar-Vergara on the three murder counts.
Authorities said Rebollar-Vergara, and fellow gang member Jose Garcia, 18, of Mundelein, confronted Gonzalez inside the One Stop Food and Liquor Store in the 1000 block of Fairfield Road at 12:40 a.m. on March 10, 2013. They wrongly assumed Gonzalez was a gang member.
After words were exchanged inside the store, authorities said, Rebollar-Vergara and Garcia followed Gonzalez into the parking lot where the argument continued.
Authorities said one defendant pulled out a .22-caliber handgun and fired at Gonzalez. He died after a bullet struck his aorta.
Prosecutors and defense attorneys for Rebollar-Vergara believe Garcia fired the fatal shot, but the defense attorney for Garcia said video surveillance evidence is unclear on who fired the weapon.
If found guilty of first-degree murder, Rebollar-Vergara and Garcia each could be sentenced to up to 75 years in prison.
Each is held in Lake County jail in lieu of $3 million bail.