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updated: 4/28/2014 4:26 PM

Trial begins for Round Lake man accused in teen's slaying over hat

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  • Jose Rebollar, 26, of Round Lake, is facing three counts of first-degree murder. His trial begins today.

      Jose Rebollar, 26, of Round Lake, is facing three counts of first-degree murder. His trial begins today.

 
 

The trial of a Round Lake man accused of taking part the fatal shooting of a Zion teen because of the way he wore his hat kicked off Monday in a Lake County courtroom.

Jose Rebollar, 26, of the 500 block of Carol Lane, is facing up to 75 years in prison for his role in the March 10, 2013 shooting of Gabriel Gonzalez, 18.

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Rebollar and Gonzalez crossed paths at the One Stop Food and Liquor store in the 1000 block of Fairfield Road at 12:40 a.m., authorities said. Police said the two began arguing because Rebollar thought Gonzalez was a rival gang member and told the Zion teen to fix the way he was wearing his hat.

The argument spilled from the store's the checkout line to the parking lot, authorities said. At that point, prosecutors allege, co-defendant Jose Garcia -- who exited the store after Rebollar -- pulled out a .22-caliber handgun and fired 10 shots at Gonzalez. One bullet hit Gonzalez in the back and pierced his aorta, killing him.

Garcia, 19, of Mundelein, was found guilty of first-degree murder at trial in February and later sentenced to 62 years in prison.

Rebollar faces three counts of first-degree murder, and is being held on $3 million bail.

Prosecutors have said Garcia was operating as a gang enforcer for Rebollar the night of the shooting, and that Rebollar knew Garcia had the handgun in his possession when he confronted Gonzalez.

Defense attorney Robert Ritacca has argued that Rebollar is not a gang member, and had no knowledge that Garcia was carrying a weapon.

However, Garcia testified at his trial that Rebollar was a gang member.

Opening statements in Rebollar's trial are expected Tuesday morning. The trial is expected to last through the week, with closing arguments likely late Thursday.

Court documents list the defendant's name as Rebollar-Vergara, though prosecutor Reginald Mathews has said and filed paperwork claiming his name may also be Vergara-Rebollar. In court, he is simply referred to as Jose Rebollar.

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