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updated: 6/12/2014 5:36 PM

Thirty years in plea deal in Aurora hammer murder case

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  • Jose Becerra

    Jose Becerra

  • Abigail Villalpando

    Abigail Villalpando

  • Juan Garnica

    Juan Garnica

  • Enrique Prado

    Enrique Prado


Thirty years in prison for murdering Abigail Villalpando is not enough for Juan Garnica, relatives of Villalpando said Thursday.

"Even if he served a trillion years, it is not enough," said Ricky Villalpando, Abigail's brother, after hearing Garnica, of Aurora, plead guilty to first-degree murder in exchange for a 30-year sentence.

Translating for his mother, he said she wonders if a longer sentence wasn't sought because the Villalpandos aren't citizens of the United States.

Abigail's parents, brother and an aunt sobbed as Kane County State's Attorney Joe McMahon detailed what happened to the 18-year-old West Aurora High School student Jan. 2, 2013 in Aurora.

Abigail was at a home in the 400 block of Jefferson Street with its resident, Enrique Prado, and Garnica. Garnica asked Abigail to look at a dead turtle in a large aquarium. When she leaned over to do so, he pulled a hammer out of a pants pocket and hit her in the head and body. When she fell to the floor, he hit her several more times, then checked her wrist and neck for a pulse, McMahon said.

He then wrapped her in a blanket. Prado and Garnica stole a trash barrel from a park and burned her body in it, put the remains in a plastic bin and, with the help of Jose Becerra of Oswego, disposed of the remains in an isolated woody marsh in Montgomery, according to Prado's statement to police.

Prado had told Aurora police what happened, according to an application for a search warrant filed by police.

McMahon said after the hearing it remains unclear why Garnica killed Abigail.

"It is something we are going to die not knowing," Ricky Villalpando said, unless Garnica talks in prison. "Maybe he was obsessed."

Garnica and Abigail had been friends since the Villalpando family moved to Illinois when Abigail was in sixth grade, Ricky Villalpando said.

Becerra and Prado were charged with concealment of a homicide. Becerra is due in court July 1; Prado's next date is July 17.

Prado was also charged with arson. If convicted of arson, the most serious charge, he could be sentenced to as many as seven years in prison. Becerra could be sentenced to five to 10 years.

Garnica, now 20, could have been sentenced to as few as 20 years or as many as 60 years in prison. He has no previous criminal history, according to McMahon.

The plea took about a half-hour before Kane County Circuit Judge John Barsanti. Garnica did not make any statement. He was represented by Assistant Public Defender Beth Peccarelli.

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