15-year-old gets 5 years in Palatine-area gang-related murder

Updated 10/8/2019 5:37 PM

The 15-year-old who pleaded guilty to murder for a gang-related fatal shooting was sentenced Tuesday to five years in a juvenile detention facility.

"I'm sorry for what I did," said the teen, who turns 16 next month and is incarcerated at Chicago's Juvenile Temporary Detention Center.


He pleaded guilty to the February murder of Jose Castaneda Jr., 20, of unincorporated Cook County near Palatine. The Daily Herald is not naming the defendant because he has been charged as a juvenile.

Castaneda's mother and family "still can't accept he's gone forever," according to his mother's statement, which was read by Assistant Cook County State's Attorney Robert Kline.

"I hope you realize you killed a good person," she wrote.

Castaneda's family members were not in court for the sentencing.

There is "no adequate punishment for taking the life of another human ... five years doesn't scratch the surface," said Kline, adding he hopes the teen uses his incarceration to transform his life.

"But it only works if you're genuine," he said.

Cook County Judge Steven Bernstein noted that another judge denied prosecutors' motion to transfer the teen's case to adult court, as well as a request for extended juvenile jurisdiction that allows a judge to impose an additional adult sentence if the teen violates the conditions of the juvenile sentence.

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"You took a human life," said Bernstein. "That's something you're going to have to live with for the rest of your life. I hope you reflect on what you've done and try to change."

Assistant Cook County Public Defender Kathy Roller said her client feels "deep remorse for what he has done ... and that remorse is genuine."

At the time of the shooting, the teen was grieving his father's 2018 death from a heart attack, Roller said, adding he was also "in the throes of an extreme drug addiction."

Authorities say the teen's co-defendant Andre Naydenov, 16, of Palatine, was driving a silver BMW on Feb. 1, 2019, with the defendant in the passenger seat when they stopped at a gas station near the Silver Lakes Apartment Complex in Palatine Township. They drove up at about the same time Castaneda and his friend arrived at the gas station on foot, authorities said.

According to the defendant's probation officer, the teenager believed Castaneda's friend had shot at a friend of his. After the victim and his friend left the gas station, Naydenov drove in their direction while the defendant fired multiple shots, which authorities say struck the victim in the back.

Also charged with murder is Naydenov, whose case is pending in adult court because of his age. He's being held in juvenile detention on $750,000 bail.

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