Defense attorneys argue they should be allowed to introduce evidence of "aggressive and violent behavior" of Elgin shooting victim Nestor Alvarado and several surviving witnesses when Mario A. Williams and Ricky J. Moreno go on trial on murder charges in June.
Cook County Assistant Public Defender Deana Binstock on Wednesday asked Judge Thomas Fecarotta to allow her to give jurors evidence -- gang ties that she says the victim and witnesses have -- in support of her client's self-defense claims.
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"We are claiming a group that started out as three (people) turned into seven," said Binstock, referring to the victim and his friends, who authorities say had an altercation with the defendants at an Elgin skatepark and followed them to a nearby convenience store where the shooting occurred in 2012.
Dressed in a Cook County Juvenile Detention Center uniform with the word "honors" across his left chest, Williams, 17, sat quietly during the hearing.
Assistant State's Attorney Mike Gerber argued against allowing jurors to hear the evidence, stating that behavior by Alvarado and the witnesses such as violating curfew, failing to appear for a court hearing and failure to comply with probation restrictions -- among other examples -- did not constitute violent behavior.
Fecarotta did not rule on the defense motions. Instead, he said he will reserve ruling until those surviving witnesses are called to testify.
The trial is scheduled to begin June 9 in Rolling Meadows.
Binstock previously said she was prepared to argue the constitutionality of the mandatory firearm enhancement law, which adds 25 years to a convicted defendant's sentence if he or she is found to have personally discharged a firearm. She did not argue that motion Wednesday, explaining that the court considered that to be a sentencing issue and will consider it only in the event of a conviction.
Prosecutors say Williams shot and killed 16-year-old Alvarado outside an Elgin convenience about 7:30 p.m. June 7, 2012. Store surveillance showed Moreno, who at the time had several cases pending in juvenile court, handing a weapon to Williams, who authorities say had no criminal background. Williams fired, authorities said, hitting Alvarado once in the chest. He then ran to a friend's house, where prosecutors say he and Moreno, 17, attempted to alter their appearances by cutting their hair and changing their clothes.
If Williams is convicted of first-degree murder and of personally discharging a firearm, he faces a minimum of 45 years in prison.