Waukegan man sentenced to 59 years in prison for 2011 murder

Updated 4/3/2014 6:52 PM
  • Jose Horta

    Jose Horta

A 21-year-old man was sentenced to 59 years in prison for helping to torture and murder a Waukegan man in 2011, then helping to dump his body in the Penny Road Pond in unincorporated Cook County near Barrington.

The sentence issued Thursday to Jose Horta, of the 300 block of Edison Court in Waukegan, came after Lake County Judge Mark Levitt denied a defense attorney request for a new trial.

Levitt said the sentence was deserved because Horta assisted four other people to make victim David Campbell's "last breath on Earth" one of "undesirable agony."

"To suggest in any way, shape or form that you were just present (during the killing) defies logic and common sense," Levitt said. "I want to make it clear to you this sentence is because of your conduct, your actions and your behavior."

Just before being sentenced, Horta told the court he was sorry for what happened to Campbell, but that he did not commit the actual killing.

"I just wish this court and the whole system treats me fair," he said. "The guy who actually committed this crime is not here."

Authorities said five people, including Horta, were looking for revenge when they lured Campbell, 27, to a Waukegan auto-body shop July 5, 2011, through a fake drug deal and attacked him.

Police said Campbell was wrongly blamed by the assailants for sexually assaulting a female member of the group five days earlier.

Authorities said Horta held a gun to Campbell's head while the others kicked and punched Campbell into submission.

Campbell died after being choked to death using plastic grocery store bags and zip ties, authorities said. He was also hit in the head with a hammer and was burned with a blow torch, authorities said.

Horta and two others wrapped Campbell's body in plastic and dumped it, authorities said. The five then split between $15,000 to $20,000 in cash Campbell had in his possession for the drug deal, authorities said.

"This defendant had a gun and was the most equipped to help David Campbell," Assistant State's Attorney Jim Newman said. "He so easily could have said no. He so easily could have walked away. He so easily could have saved the life of David Campbell. But chose not to."

Horta is the second of four people sentenced to prison for the murder.

Roberto Guzman, 26, of the 1000 block of Berwick Boulevard in Waukegan, was sentenced to 29 years after pleading guilty to first-degree murder in May.

Eric Castillo, 26, of the 38000 block of North Sheridan Road in Beach Park, was found guilty of murder in March, and is scheduled to be sentenced in May. Nadia Palacios, 24, of 3500 block of Windhaven Drive in Waukegan, is awaiting trial.

Authorities believe a fifth suspect has eluded capture.

Article Comments ()
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.