Aurora man is 4th convicted in 2005 gang beating death

A Kane County jury this week convicted a 22-year-old Aurora man in the 2005 beating death that was prompted, in part, over a gang handshake.

Juan Vargas, of the 200 block of High Street, was found guilty late Tuesday of first-degree murder in the Sept. 4, 2005, beating death of Jorge Caro, 21.

Caro was targeted because he improperly used a gang handshake at a party and cooperated with police in another murder investigation, according to prosecutors.

Vargas and four others kicked and punched Caro before Vargas gave one of the men, Quentin Moore, 21, of Aurora, a baseball bat that was used to strike Caro in the head several times, authorities said.

The autopsy showed 22 injuries to Caro’s head and face and 16 injuries to his upper body and arms, authorities said. The jury took less than two hours to convict Vargas, and he faces a 20- to 60-year sentence from Judge Allen Anderson on June 28, authorities said.

Moore faces first-degree murder charges and is next due in court May 31.

Timothy Echols, 21, of Aurora, also is charged with standing guard while Caro was beaten. Echols is currently serving a 45-year sentence for gunning down an Illinois Youth Center guard on Oct. 31, 2004, and is due in Kane County court again Aug. 30.

In addition to Vargas, three other Aurora men have been convicted in Caro’s murder, which was solved in 2007 as part of an investigation by Aurora Police, the FBI, and the Kane County Sheriff’s Department and state’s attorney’s office into 22 “cold” homicide cases.

Max Aguilar, 21, was convicted of murder and is serving a 20-year prison sentence.

Ruben Hernandez, 28, is serving a 35-year prison sentence but also faces a mandatory life sentence on July 2 for his conviction last week in the November 2005 drive-by murder of Michael Moore, 30, on the city’s east side.

Roman Lucio pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder in exchange for a 26-year prison sentence.

“Individuals who choose the gang life and think they can engage in violent behavior at the expense of the community should know that we will work with the Aurora Police Department to identify and prosecute them no matter when and where we find them. For those who are convicted, we will seek lengthy prison sentences,” Kane County State’s Attorney Joe McMahon said in a prepared statement.

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