4 charged in slaying of West Chicago teen plead not guilty
All four suspects accused in last month's slaying of an 18-year-old West Chicago man pleaded not guilty to a 12-count indictment in separate hearings Monday morning.
Francisco Alvarado, 18, of West Chicago; Tia Brewer, 16, of unincorporated DuPage County; Saul Ruiz, 18, of West Chicago; and Jesus Correa, 18, of West Chicago, each have been indicted on seven counts of first-degree murder, three counts of aggravated kidnapping and one count of armed robbery and concealment of a homicide. Bail has been denied for each defendant.
Assistant State's Attorney Tim Diamond, chief of the office's criminal bureau, said prosecutors also intend to prove the slaying was premeditated, calculated and involved torture. If those are proven, each suspect would face up to natural life in prison.
The four are accused of killing Luis Guerrero, 18, of West Chicago, whose body was found in a fire pit along Joliet Street by members of the West Chicago Fire Department during a training drill. The fire pit is across the street from Alvarado's house.
Prosecutors said Ruiz, Alvarado and Brewer arranged to meet Guerrero the evening of Aug. 13, "eventually tracking him down" at a Burger King near the West Chicago Public Library. Alvarado and Brewer stabbed and punched Guerrero while Ruiz held him down, authorities said.
The three stole Guerrero's backpack, loaded him into a Jeep Cherokee and drove to the fire pit, where they "tortured, beat and kicked Guerrero as he begged for his life," prosecutors said.
Correa arrived later with a container of gasoline -- for which he received a $200 payment, authorities said -- and also beat and kicked Guerrero, according to prosecutors.
Authorities said Brewer poured the gasoline on Guerrero and set him on fire. While on fire, Guerrero got up and began to run away, and Alvarado and Brewer ran him over with the Jeep, loaded him into the vehicle, drove back to the fire pit, threw him in it and set him on fire again, authorities alleged.
Alvarado and Brewer were arrested in a downtown Chicago motel, where authorities said they were preparing to flee. Police said they found the victim's belongings in their hotel room, including a bloody backpack containing a bloody knife and screwdriver. They also had bags of clothes and a cooler filled with food and drinks.
Prosecutors said the defendants gave police different stories about the motive for the attack.
Brewer, who previously dated Guerrero, said it was a case of retribution because Guerrero had sexually assaulted her, but authorities said they have no record of the woman's reporting such a crime. Alvarado told police he was meeting with Guerrero to buy a phone when Guerrero displayed a knife and the men began fighting, authorities said.
Several members of Guerrero's family and friends appeared in court Monday, some wearing shirts with his photo on the front. They declined to comment on Monday's proceedings.
Correa is next due in court on Oct. 10. Alvarado's next court date is scheduled for Oct. 19. Brewer and Ruiz each will appear next on Oct. 29.