Defense attorneys for Edwin Paniagua, charged with the 2010 stabbing death of a Mount Prospect man, called their client's co-defendant to the witness stand late Monday.
But Marko Guardiola, a Chicago gang member and felon whose copious facial tattoos include a gang symbol and teardrops, did not testify. Moments after he was sworn in, Cook County sheriff's deputies ushered him off the stand and back to the lockup for his return to Stateville prison after Assistant Public Defender Joe Gump announced that the defense would not question Guardiola, after all.
Prosecutors delivered the day's most dramatic testimony, which consisted of several video recordings in which the 19-year-old Paniagua describes to police detectives the final harrowing moments in the life of Jean Louis Wattecamps, 52, a baggage handler for American Eagle.
Paniagua and Guardiola, 41, were both charged with first-degree murder. Guardiola pleaded guilty in April to killing Wattecamps and was sentenced to 33 years in prison.
Prosecutors say greed motivated the murder of Wattecamps, who met Guardiola, his then-girlfriend Erica Yanez, and several other acquaintances the afternoon of July 20, 2010, by the Colony Apartments swimming pool. After spending the afternoon drinking and talking, Wattecamps treated the group to dinner at a nearby fast food restaurant. They ended up back at Wattecamps' apartment, where they socialized a few hours before dispersing, prosecutors said. At some point, Guardiola called Paniagua, then 15, and they along with Yanez returned to Wattecamps' apartment so Yanez could use the restroom, prosecutors said.
Yanez testified last week that Paniagua bound Wattecamps' legs and held to his throat a knife taken from a dresser drawer. She also testified the defendants bound the victim's hands and tied a shirt around his neck. Both defendants struck and kicked Wattecamps in the torso, after which Guardiola stabbed him multiple times in the chest, Yanez said. The blows struck his heart, lungs and spine.
The state rested early Monday afternoon after jurors watched videotapes of Mount Prospect detectives interrogating Paniagua several days after the murder.
Paniagua, who met Guardiola in June 2010, told officers he met Guardiola and two other gang members at a nearby convenience store between 11 p.m. and midnight July 20. Guardiola told them they were going to "hit a lick" (rob someone) at the Colony Apartments, Paniagua told police. When Guardiola couldn't find his way back to Wattecamps' apartment, the other gang members left, Paniagua said.
Yanez knocked on Wattecamps' door and asked to use the restroom, Paniagua said. Within moments Guardiola had Wattecamps in a headlock and demanded money, but "the guy didn't have nothing," said Paniagua, who admitted finding the knife, holding it to Wattecamps' neck and kicking him.
Jury deliberations will likely begin Tuesday.