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updated: 6/5/2014 6:59 PM

Round Lake man seeks new trial

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  • Jose Rebollar

      Jose Rebollar

 
 

A Round Lake man who was convicted last month of killing a Zion teen because of the way he wore a hat is requesting a new trial, his attorney said Thursday.

As part of that request, Robert Ritacca, defense attorney for Jose Rebollar, received permission to interview a co-defendant in the slaying of Gabriel Gonzalez, 18, of Zion. Ritacca said he wants to see if there was animosity between Jose Garcia and Gonzalez before the March 10, 2013, killing.

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"They had violent contact with each other before," Ritacca said in court while seeking permission from Lake County Judge Daniel Shanes to interview Garcia. "I'm not going to give up. I'm going to look at everything and see if there was independent motive and intent from Garcia that wasn't checked."

Ritacca would need permission from a defense attorney assigned to Garcia, 19, of Mundelein, before the interview can legally take place, Shanes said. Garcia is at a downstate prison, where he is serving 62 years for killing Gonzalez.

Shanes said he would rule on Ritacca's request for a new trial at a later date.

Rebollar, 26, of the 500 block of Carol Lane, faces up to 75 years in prison at sentencing after a Lake County jury convicted him in May on three counts of first-degree murder for Gonzalez's death outside the One Stop Food and Liquor Store on the 1000 block of Fairfield Road in Round Lake Beach.

Authorities said Gonzalez was making a purchase at the front counter when Rebollar confronted him because of the way he was wearing a baseball hat. Rebollar and Garcia began flashing gang signs at the Zion teen, authorities said, but Gonzalez left the store because he isn't a gang member.

Authorities said Garcia and Rebollar -- who is also named in court documents as Rebollar-Vergara or Vergara-Rebollar -- followed Gonzalez to the parking lot, where the argument continued. There, Garcia used a concealed handgun to fire 10 shots, including one that hit Gonzalez and killed him.

Garcia was convicted of murder in February. Rebollar was convicted because prosecutors argued Garcia was providing him with "security" as the higher-ranking gang member at the scene.

Ritacca has long argued Rebollar was unaware Garcia planned to shoot Gonzalez and, therefore, was not guilty of the crime. Ritacca also said he has proof Garcia shot Gonzalez because of a past feud the two had when they were enrolled in the same school.

"They knew each other, and I'm sure (Garcia) will tell me," Ritacca said outside the courtroom after the hearing.

Shanes ordered both sides to return to court June 23 for a status update.

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