2005 Aurora beating murder was over gang handshake

A 23-year-old Aurora man has been sentenced to 31 years in prison for a 2005 beating death that was triggered, in part, over a gang handshake.

Juan Vargas, of the 200 block of High Street, was convicted in May 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 is the fourth person convicted — of the six people charged — in the case.

“We hope Jorge Caro’s family can find comfort in Mr. Vargas’ sentence,” Kane County State’s Attorney Joe McMahon said. “We will continue to work with police departments to identify violent street gang members, and prosecute them for their destructive, anti-social behavior. For those who are convicted, we will seek lengthy prison sentences.”

Prosecutors said Vargas and four others kicked and punched Caro before Vargas gave one of the men, Quinton Moore, 31, of Aurora, a baseball bat that was used to strike Caro in the head several times. 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.

Judge Allen Anderson imposed the sentence Thursday.

Moore also faces first-degree murder charges and is next due in court Wednesday.

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 “Operation First Degree Burn,” an investigation by Aurora police, the FBI, the Kane County Sheriff’s Department and the state’s attorney’s office into 22 “cold” homicide cases.

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