Man guilty in 2016 Elgin fatal shooting, car chase

  • Alberto J. Sepeda faces life in prison when sentenced on July 27.

    Alberto J. Sepeda faces life in prison when sentenced on July 27.

 
 
Updated 5/10/2018 9:20 PM

After deliberating less than two hours, a Kane County jury convicted an Elgin man of gunning down a 59-year-old man in 2016, kidnapping his girlfriend and their infant daughter and leading police on a chase that hit 90 mph through residential areas.

Jurors rejected the self-defense claims of Alberto J. Sepeda, 29, finding him guilty of first-degree murder in the death of Norbert Gutierrez, who was shot twice Nov. 13, 2016. Sepeda was found guilty on all counts of home invasion and aggravated kidnapping. He faces life in prison when sentenced on July 27.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"The defendant killed a man in cold blood. The defendant shot a man -- twice," Joe Cullen, the lead prosecutor in the case, told jurors in closing arguments Thursday. "Norbert Gutierrez died trying to defend his home."

According to testimony during the four-day trial, an intoxicated Sepeda drove to a house on the 800 block of Morgan Street where his girlfriend and daughter were staying on the city's near west side at 4 a.m. to retrieve marijuana Sepeda believed she took from him.

Sepeda entered the house, but Gutierrez told him to leave, and the two scuffled outside before Sepeda shot Gutierrez in the chest and then pressed a gun to the top of his head and fired a second shot, prosectors argued. Sepeda then forced his way back in the house, and left with his 25-year-old girlfriend and baby at gunpoint.

Elgin police rushed to the scene, but Sepeda drove off, running stop signs and driving through yards near two schools before surrendering when his car broke down.

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A .40-caliber handgun was found in his car, along with another bullet and spent shell casing. Police found an extended 30-round magazine and holster along the chase route that Sepeda threw from his vehicle, according to testimony.

Defense attorney Gary Payton argued Sepeda was acting in self-defense against the much larger Gutierrez, who was nearly 6 feet and 265 pounds.

Sepeda testified Thursday morning that Gutierrez began pummeling him inside the house and continued to beat him outside. Sepeda said Gutierrez was on top of him, calling for his family members to get his shotgun, and tried to grab Sepeda's gun out of the holster.

"He didn't budge. He kept hitting me, so I shot him," Sepeda testified, adding he immediately felt bad he had shot Gutierrez in the chest and extended his hand to help him.

Sepeda testified the wounded Guiterrez then stabbed Sepeda's hand and Sepeda shot him a second time. Sepeda said he calmly informed Gutierrez's relatives that he had "passed away" and solemnly retrieved his girlfriend and their infant from the basement.

Cullen pointed out contradictions in Sepeda's testimony, and replayed segments of the 911 tape. Within 51 seconds of an operator answering, Gutierrez had been shot and other women and children in the house were screaming.

"Is the terror depicted in the 911 tape real or fake? Because it's not what's described in (Sepeda's) self-serving testimony," Cullen said.

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