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home : news : news   April 29, 2016

2/23/2013 8:00:00 PM
Judge: State can cite past crimes at murder trial


Tom Collins
NewsTribune Senior Reporter



OTTAWA — Luis Lomeli will stand trial April 8 for murder and prosecutors can disclose crimes he may have committed hours before Darrio Hunter’s beating death, a judge ruled Friday.

Lomeli, 27, of Sheridan faces 20-60 years in prison if convicted of killing Hunter on May 2, 2011, during a staged robbery in a west-side Ottawa home.

Friday, Judge Cynthia M. Raccuglia dealt Lomeli’s defense a setback when she ruled the state’s attorney’s office could introduce evidence of past crimes. Prosecutors want to show that Lomeli and his accomplices attempted or executed three robberies in Kane County during an eight-hour period leading up to the Hunter killing.

Lomeli and his cohorts allegedly attempted two robberies in Aurora; one intended victim ran away unharmed while another sustained 15 stab wounds. A residential burglary followed in Montgomery, during which the resident escaped without injury or loss of property.

“(The) common scheme of (the suspects) was to use a female to lure unsuspecting men to a location where (they) would rob the victim,” prosecutors said in a written motion.

La Salle County prosecutors allege that Hunter was the fourth victim targeted in the spree — and they want Lomeli’s jurors to hear about the Aurora and Montgomery plots.

Ordinarily, prosecutors may not discuss a defendant’s past crimes in front of a jury; but there are exceptions to that rule. In this case, Raccuglia will allow jurors to hear evidence from the Aurora/Montgomery robberies, though only for the purposes of demonstrating intent or a modus operandi.

Raccuglia issued an identical ruling in the pending case of Jason L. Ward, 30, of Ottawa, another of the defendants accused of beating Hunter to death. Ward and Lomeli’s sister, 30-year-old Jamie Lomeli of Ottawa, also are awaiting trial for first-degree murder.

Two more suspects in the case have cut deals with the state and are not expected to stand trial. Jason’s brother Joshua Ward and Luis’ girlfriend Sylvia Enriquez both are expected to testify as state witnesses.

Tom Collins can be reached at (815) 220-6930 or courtreporter@newstrib.com.










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