A jury deliberated for roughly two hours before convicting gang member Narcisco Gatica in the Halloween 2009 shooting death of a DePaul University honor student.
Narcisco Gatica, 21, had been on trial all week, accused of pulling the trigger of a TEC-9 semiautomatic that killed Francisco "Frankie" Valencia and wounding girlfriend, Daisy Camacho, as they attended a Humboldt Part Halloween party two years ago.
Jurors found him guilty of murder and aggravated battery with a firearm.
Valencia’s mother, Joy McCormack, and other relatives packed two benches of the courtroom; most cried when a photo of him taken at the morgue appeared on a video screen.
"It's been such a hard, hard road for us," she sobbed outside the courtroom after the verdict was read. "I'm so angry. I'm so angry that they took our son's life, because they wanted to go to a party."
With his family sitting near him, Gatica did not appear to show any emotion during the arguments.
One of the first witnesses to testify on Monday was a man who lived just north of the party taking place on the 1700 block of North Rockwell. Eduardo Villavueva told the court that he came face-to-face with Gatica shortly after Gatica dumped the gun between two buildings.
Assistant public defender Marijane Placek disputed it was Gatica who fired the shots, arguing his black hoodie with giant embroidery on the back would have shown up in the light on the surveillance video. None of the witnesses mentioned the large gold motif on the jacket she held up for jurors again and again.
Placek argued that Gatica was set up by his fellow gang members, who were angry he was trying to leave the gang.
"Our whole claim is the reason that boy confessed is because of the fact that the police threatened his mother," she said.
McCormack found that assertion appalling.
"I believe in a person's right to a fair trial, but this was ridiculous. It was absurd. It was laughable. I felt like they were throwing noodles on a wall to see what would stick," she said.
Gatica, 21, is a self-proclaimed member of the Maniac Latin Disciples and the second man convicted with Valencia's death.
Last June, Berly Valladares was sentenced to 70 years in prison for providing the gun that was used to kill Valencia.