Mundelein man convicted in 2009 fatal firebombing

Updated 7/6/2011 9:33 PM
  • Edwin J. Hernandez

    Edwin J. Hernandez

  • Elver H. Hernandez

      Elver H. Hernandez GILBERT R. BOUCHER II | Staff Photographer

  • Manuel Flores

      Manuel Flores GILBERT R. BOUCHER II | Staff Photographer

The second of two Mundelein brothers accused of the 2009 firebombing of a house that killed a 12-year-old boy and severely injured two others was convicted of murder Wednesday in Lake County circuit court.

Edwin Hernandez, 19, faces a prison term of between 60 and 100 years when he returns to court Aug. 18 to be sentenced.

His older brother Elver Hernandez, 22, was convicted of murder under similar circumstances July 1 and is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 15.

The two threw a firebomb into a house in the 200 block of Prospect Avenue during the early morning hours May 9, 2009.

The resulting fire trapped Jorge Juarez, 12, on the second floor where he died of smoke inhalation.

Jorge's younger sister, Adriana Juarez, 11, was severely burned, and the children's mother, Virginia Estrada, suffered a broken back when she jumped through a window to escape the flames.

Assistant State's Attorney Dan Kleinhubert said the Hernandez brothers were gang members acting on the orders of Manuel Flores, 27, who was seeking to punish Jorge's older brother for an affront to the gang.

Kleinhubert said the Hernandez brothers, both of the 800 block of Lange Street in Mundelein, met with Flores on May 8 at Flores' residence in the 24000 block of West Brorson Avenue in Round Lake.

Flores issued a "SOS" or "smash on sight" order against Jorge's 18-year-old brother, Kleinhubert said, and the brothers returned to their residence.

Later that night, they poured gasoline into a 40-ounce glass bottle, ignited a rag stuffed in the top of the bottle and threw it through a window of the Prospect Avenue house.

The target of the firebomb was not at home at the time, Kleinhubert, but has since been located and is expected to be available to testify at Flores' trial.

Adriana Juarez is still being treated for her injuries, Kleinhubert said, and Estrada is confined to a wheelchair.

Kleinhubert said both Hernandez brothers rejected offers of reduced sentences in exchange for testimony against Flores.

They were both convicted in brief trials before Circuit Judge Daniel Shanes during which they did not challenge Kleinhubert's rendition of the evidence against them.

Flores has pleaded not guilty to murder and is scheduled to appear in court July 15.

All three are held without bond.