Man gets life in prison for deadly baseball bat attack on wife, stepson in Beach Park
Calling the brutal double murder "despicable" and "shocking," a Lake County judge on Monday sentenced a Beach Park man to life in prison for viciously beating his wife and stepson with a baseball bat in 2015.
"This is the type of crime that is horrific in nature, is despicable, and not tolerated by any society," Lake County Judge James Booras said in handing down the life term to Armando Trejo Jr.
Trejo's attorneys said they plan to appeal the life sentence and a jury's verdict finding him guilty of first-degree murder in the slayings of Lailani Uy Trejo, 43, and 14-year-old Patrick K. Cruz Uy.
The sentencing Monday was mostly a formality because jurors found the Nov. 29, 2015, attack to be especially brutal and heinous, resulting in an automatic life term.
Trejo, 50, admitted during his March trial that he used an aluminum bat to bludgeon his wife and stepson to death. However, defense lawyers Michael Ettinger and Stephen Simonian argued that the Beach Park man reacted with "sudden and intense passion" after seeing his wife sexually abuse his stepson. That should have led to a second-degree murder charge carrying a sentence of four to 20 years in prison, the defense attorneys argued.
It took jurors less than an hour to reject that claim and find Trejo guilty of the more serious charges at the conclusion of the eight-day trial.
Assistant Lake County State's Attorney Eric Kalata said Monday the Illinois legislature did the right thing by creating a mandatory life sentence for those guilty of murder in brutal and heinous ways, as a way to give a "heartless killer what he so justly deserves."
Authorities said emergency dispatchers received a phone call the night of the attack from Lailani, saying she "needs police" and "was dying and she was bleeding." Dispatchers heard several "ping" sounds, which authorities believe was the sound of the bat striking her.
When his stepson tried to intervene, Trejo repeatedly and viciously hit the boy with the bat in the head until he died, authorities said.
Trejo later tried to send responding police officers away by claiming a nonexistent 2-year-old accidentally dialed 911, authorities say. He also gave police a fictitious name. Police eventually were allowed inside and discovered the gruesome murders.
Zedyna Maborang, mother of Lailani and grandmother to Patrick, said the loss of her family members left a large hole in her heart, and her mind could not comprehend how "pure and plain evil you would have to be to have done" what Trejo did.
"There are no words for the amount of guilt I feel of knowing I was unable to protect my daughter and grandson from you," Maborang said. "How could you do this? They were good people loved by so many."