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home : news : local   April 30, 2016

11/29/2012 10:34:00 AM
Bizarre Earlville 'felony murder' case on hold until next year

Tom Collins
NewsTribune Senior Reporter

OTTAWA — Turnover in the prosecutor’s office means an Earlville murder trial won’t happen until at least this winter.

Marcus E. Samarripa, 25, of Turlock, Calif., appeared Wednesday for a status hearing on his pending trial for felony murder. He last was scheduled for trial on Aug. 6 and has since waited for attorneys in the case to agree on a new trial setting.

He’ll have to wait a bit longer. Samarripa left Wednesday’s hearing with only a Dec. 12 status hearing — and no guarantee he’ll get trial dates then, either.

The holdup this time is turnover within the La Salle County State’s Attorney’s Office. Chief deputy assistant Todd Martin, who had been in charge of the case, is being transferred to the civil division and has handed the reins to assistant Jeremiah Adams, who indicated in open court he needs time to get up to speed.

Ottawadefense attorney Ed Kuleck said he had no objection to the continuance, noting they still await DNA tests from a state crime lab.

Samarripa faces 20-60 years in prison if convicted of his role in the death of 22-year-old Raymond Maldonado, also of Turlock. Samarripa did not fire the gunshot that killed Maldonado; they were allegedly breaking into an Earlville residence when the armed homeowner greeted them and opened fire.

Under the theory of felony murder, however, Samarripa could be held criminally responsible for his companion’s death if a jury finds he was, in fact, committing a home invasion.

The homeowner, Joel V. Contreras, 48, of rural Earlville, never was charged with a gun offense or homicide. He was, however, charged for the 40 marijuana plants located in his basement by the police who responded to the shooting.

He pleaded guilty in July to one count of unlawful production of cannabis plants, a Class 3 felony carrying 2-5 years in prison. He avoided prison inIllinois, but still faces federal charges and possible deportation.

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