Testimony: No gunshot residue on man accused in Wheeling shooting

  • Jesus Sanchez

    Jesus Sanchez

 
 
Updated 11/5/2014 7:39 PM

An expert testified Wednesday that he found no gunshot residue on the hands or clothes of an Arlington Heights man accused of killing a man by firing into a group of people standing on Pleasant Run Drive in Wheeling's Winetree Apartments.

Rafael Orozco, 23, a bystander who was out walking his dog Gizmo about 9 p.m. May 1, 2013, was struck in the back by a bullet. Prosecutors say Jesus Sanchez, 20, was aiming at a rival gang member when he fired four shots in the direction of the neighbors talking beneath one of the complex's streetlights.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Prosecutors claim Sanchez was angry at the 15-year-old target who had quit Sanchez's gang to join a rival gang.

Robert Berk, of the Illinois State Police crime lab, testified that Sanchez's hands, T-shirt and shorts tested negative for gunshot residue.

Defense attorneys say no physical evidence links Sanchez to the shooting and no witnesses saw him fire a weapon. They say the physical evidence doesn't match the statement Sanchez gave police, who Assistant Public Defender Julie Koehler said targeted her client because he and the 15-year-old gang rival had been involved in several altercations that day.

Testifying for the prosecution, Winetree resident Miguel Cortes, 17, acknowledged that the gang rival -- known as a "pancake" for "flipping" -- made enemies after switching affiliations.

Later, prosecution witness Heladio Flores, 16, recanted statements Wheeling police detectives said he made during questioning several hours after the murder.

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Flores, who described himself as an "associate" of Sanchez's gang and is currently facing armed robbery charges in Lake County, admitted he, Sanchez and some other gang members chased the 15-year-old "to beat him up" earlier that day when he exited a school bus.

But Flores testified he lied during a May 2, 2011, interview with Wheeling detective Michael Bieschke when he told Bieschke he saw Sanchez with a revolver and that another gang member dropped the weapon into a pond in the Winetree complex after the shooting.

"You lied in the police station," said Koehler during cross examination. "You lied about your friend Jesus Sanchez so that you wouldn't be charged with first-degree murder."

"You told them what they wanted to hear so you could walk out of there," she said. "Your number one goal was to save your own skin ... That's why you lied about Jesus."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"Yeah," said Flores, who claimed he, Sanchez and several other people were hanging out in a cul-de-sac south of where the shooting took place when they heard the shots.

Flores testified police told him other people were pointing the finger at him.

Assistant State's Attorney Mike Gerber confronted Flores with his flip-flop testimony.

"What do you call a guy that tells police that a member of his gang committed a murder? Dead pancake?" Gerber said.

Flores said he didn't know. The prosecutor then referred to the fate that can befall gang members who snitch on each other.

"What happens if you testify against your gang?" he asked in a rather rhetorical manner. Judge Thomas Fecarotta instructed Flores to respond, if he could. "I can't," he said.

Testimony resumes Thursday.

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