Jean Louis Wattecamps was a kind soul who would give the shirt off his back for friends and family, his relatives said. The 52-year-old airline baggage handler even bought lunch for the two men charged with killing him in 2010 in his Mount Prospect apartment.
One of the two men, former gang member Marko Guardiola, 41, of Mount Prospect, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and was sentenced Wednesday to 33 years in prison.
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Another man, Edwin Paniagua, 19, of unincorporated Elk Grove Township, is still awaiting trial on first-degree murder charges.
Wattecamps' 84-year-old mother, Odette, wept as letters written by her and her son, Steve, were read in court before the sentencing.
"You could have had a good friend in my brother. He would have had your back," Steve Wattecamps wrote, describing Jean Louis as brother, best friend and mentor.
Steve Wattecamps also complimented Mount Prospect police for their work to solve his brother's murder.
Odette Wattecamps spoke about a call she received from her son shortly before he died.
"He said, 'Mom, I want you to know I love you very much,'" she said. "Even in his last moments, you couldn't take away his love for life, family and friends."
Odette Wattecamps said Guardiola not only killed her son, but destroyed her life and her family members's lives.
"I hope you, for the rest of your life, hurt and suffer as much as I do," she said.
Guardiola, wearing a tan prison jumpsuit, apologized and said the bad things he's done was because he'd been "living the street life."
Guardiola did not look at Wattecamps' mother at any point or mention Jean Louis by name.
"I pray every day, not just for this family, but for everyone in the world," Guardiola said. "I've woken up from this a lot. I'm taking responsibility for my actions. At the same time, I wish this never happened. I'm really sorry for the victim's family, and I'm sorry for the victim."
As Guardiola was led out of the courtroom and back to prison, he laughed and smiled while talking to the Cook County Sheriff's deputies.
Cook County Assistant Public Defender Kristina Yi said Guardiola has been remorseful the entire time he's been in custody.
Guardiola must serve his full sentence and will not be eligible for release until he's 74 years old.
Jean Louis Wattecamps met Guardiola and Paniagua at the pool of the Colony Apartments, where he lived. The three had become friends. Wattecamps bought them several meals, including lunch on July 21, 2010. That night, they went back to Wattecamps' apartment for drinks. That's when prosecutors say Guardiola and Paniagua bound Wattecamps' ankles with computer cords and stabbed him eight times as he said, "You're my friend. What are you doing?"
Then they fled the apartment with $10. After a well-being check, police found Wattecamps dead on the couch with a large kitchen knife sticking out of his back.