Closing arguments Friday in double-jury trial in 2018 West Chicago gang killing

  • Juan Calderon

    Juan Calderon

  • Emilio Guillen

    Emilio Guillen

 
 
Updated 9/22/2022 6:39 PM

Attorneys for two men accused of murdering a gang rival in West Chicago in 2018 told two juries that prosecutors are relying on dubious witnesses -- not solid evidence -- to prove their case.

"It is easy to say Mr. (Juan) Calderon is on trial. But in reality, it is the state's evidence that is on trial here. The evidence in this case will amount to nothing but garbage evidence," DuPage County Assistant Public Defender Robert Gifford said during opening arguments Wednesday in the trials of Emilio Guillen and Juan Calderon. Testimony finished Thursday afternoon, and closing arguments will take place Friday morning.

 

Guillen, 31, of Rockford, and Calderon, 24, of Aurora, are both charged with first-degree murder in the Nov. 8, 2018, death of Alexander Nicolas of West Chicago. Prosecutors allege that Guillen directed Calderon to shoot Nicolas. The victim was shot in the back of the head.

Gifford said two of the prosecution's witnesses -- gang members who were also at the shooting -- have reasons to be untruthful.

"They have manipulated and maneuvered themselves to avoid prosecution for this murder," he said.

DuPage County Assistant State's Attorney Kristin Sullivan said, "While this defendant (Emilio Guillen) didn't fire the gun that killed Alex -- for standing in the wrong place at the wrong time -- his words killed Alex."

One of those witnesses Gifford spoke of, Jesus Favela, testified he was outside a West Chicago bar earlier in the day and saw an acquaintance, Fredi Bautista, with Calderon and Guillen.

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The four drank in the bar until around 11 p.m., Favela said. Then Favela asked for a ride to a gathering at a house. Someone in the group spotted Nicolas, who was warming up his car. Bautista then said Nicolas was a member of a rival gang.

Calderon and Guillen attacked Nicolas; Favela said he tried to stop it. After Calderon shot Nicolas, the four men drove to an apartment in Aurora, where Calderon showered. He then burned his clothes on the Illinois Prairie Path, Favela said.

Bautista was originally charged with murder, but he pleaded guilty in November to aggravated battery in exchange for testifying at the trial. He won't be sentenced until after the trial.

Bautista testified Thursday, including about his arrest in downstate Murphysboro a few days afterward on a parole violation. Authorities contend he fled. Bautista said he notified his parole officer of his intent to move.

Police have not found the gun that was used. A video captured by a next-door neighbor's security camera shows part of the shooting from a distance.

Each man's case is being heard by a separate, six-person jury. Separate opening statements were made for each case. Each jury will be excused during testimony that does not relate to its case.

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