Man found not guilty in 2014 Palatine double murder
A double murder remains unsolved now that a Rolling Meadows jury acquitted Marco Lopez of the 2014 shooting deaths of a Palatine father and son after a trial that lasted nearly two weeks.
Jurors deliberated about four hours Thursday afternoon before reaching their verdict, which followed more than two hours of closing arguments in which defense attorneys said law enforcement's "tunnel vision" resulted in the prosecution of their client.
Cook County Assistant Public Defender Caroline Glennon said during her closing argument the state had no physical evidence to support prosecutors' claims Lopez gunned down Segundo Reynoso, 36, and his 15-year-old son Luis on March 19, 2014. No DNA or fingerprints placed Lopez at the scene, and forensic scientists found no blood or gunshot residue on his clothes, according to witnesses.
"We're very happy," Glennon said after the verdict. "We're very relieved. The jury worked very hard and came to the correct decision in this case."
Prosecutors argued Lopez, a member of a Chicago street gang, killed the Reynosos because he believed Luis was a "snitch" who told police about burglaries the two had committed.
Throughout the trial Glennon promoted an alternative theory of the crime, putting the blame on a rival gang member who was angry that Luis Reynoso initiated the man's teenage son into Reynoso's gang.
As the trial wrapped up Thursday, prosecutors and defense attorneys offered up different versions of how Lopez -- who became emotional when the verdict was announced -- wound up in the Rolling Meadows courtroom.
About 12:20 a.m. on the day of the murders, Lopez went to the Reynoso apartment to "handle" something, Cook County assistant state's attorney Michael Crowe said in his closing arguments.
"What he went to handle was the execution of a snitch," Crowe said.
Jose Herrera, who lived on the first floor of the apartment building, testified Lopez asked him a month or so earlier if Herrera thought Luis was a snitch. The night of the murders, Herrera said he heard gun shots, followed by someone descending the stairs. Moments later, Herrera said, he observed Lopez -- who had long hair and wore a black hoodie pulled tight around his face -- walking away from the building.
Lopez's friends and fellow gang members Panfilo and Adalberto Gaytan stated to police a few hours after the murders that Lopez, living with their family at the time, was with them until 11:30 p.m. March 18. They said he told them he had to handle something and left with a revolver, returning an hour later "huffing and puffing." Testifying last week, the brothers claimed they made up the story implicating Lopez after police threatened to deport their parents.
"They're members of the same gang and subject to the same code," forbidding them from snitching on fellow gang members, said Crowe, explaining their contradictory statements.
Referring to the now short-haired, bespectacled Lopez, Crowe urged jurors not to be fooled by his appearance.
"That's the Marco Lopez of the black hoodie. That's the Marco Lopez of the revolver. That's the Marco Lopez of the shooting. The Marco who 'handled it,'" Crowe said.
Glennon claimed the shootings were the work of another man. Two former girlfriends of the man testified he made statements to them incriminating himself in the murders. Moreover, Glennon said, the man made statements about the presence of two little girls, Luis' younger sisters, in the Reynoso apartment that only the killer could know.
Cook County assistant state's attorney Denise Loiterstein described the former girlfriends as scorned women who had "an ax to grind" as their reason for implicating the man, whom police questioned and released.
Earlier this week, an expert in memory and perception testified for the defense that eyewitness identifications can be unreliable and can be improperly informed by pre- and post-event information.
"The state will say Marco Lopez is the unluckiest man in the world," Glennon said in her closing. "He is, because he's sitting here for (the man's) crime. ... It's not justice for the Reynoso family to have the wrong person sitting in jail and the killer walking free."