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home : news : local   May 24, 2016

11/13/2012 11:03:00 PM
Area murder trials postponed until 2013


Tom Collins
NewsTribune Senior Reporter



OTTAWA — None of Darrio Hunter’s alleged killers will stand trial for murder in 2012.
Tuesday, accused killer Jason Ward, 30, of Ottawa had his Nov. 26 trial indefinitely postponed after his lawyer requested a psychiatric and medical evaluation.
Public defender Tim Cappellini said Ward needs to be examined for fitness to stand trial, sanity at the time of the Hunter slaying, as well as for unspecified medical conditions.
Judge Cynthia M. Raccuglia agreed and postponed the trial until after Normal psychiatrist Robert Chapman has conducted an assessment.
Tuesday’s development was unexpected and dashes the state’s hopes of settling at least one of the three expected murder trials before the Hunter case enters its third calendar year. Hunter died May 2, 2011, following a melee at a west side Ottawa home. Prosecutors later revealed that Hunter was set up — the suspects allegedly invited him over to sell them drugs — and then robbed and fatally beaten.
Earlier this year, prosecutors also revealed that Hunter was the fourth victim targeted in a Kane-to-La Salle County robbery spree.
In an eight-hour period leading up to the Hunter killing, Jason Ward 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 (Jason Ward) and others was to use a female to lure unsuspecting men to a location where (Jason) and others would rob the victim,” prosecutors said in a written motion issued at the time.
In order to prove that, prosecutors want to disclose some of the defendants’ past misdeeds at trial — ordinarily a no-no, but allowable in some cases — and the defendants have tried to argue against that.
 Jason Ward, for one, opposed the disclosure of his criminal past but to no avail. Raccuglia ruled that jurors could hear evidence from the Aurora/Montgomery robberies, though only for the purposes of demonstrating intent or a modus operandi.
Jamie Lomeli, 32, of Ottawa awaits a hearing on the state’s request to disclose her record, which she and her lawyer argue would be prejudicial. She is set for trial on Feb. 4.
Luis Lomeli, 27, of Sheridan will next appear on a motions hearing on Feb. 8. His trial is set for Feb. 25.
Two more suspects, 31-year-old Joshua Ward of Ottawa and 25-year-old Sylvia Enriquez of Sheridan, have turned state witnesses. Their cases will remain pending until the other Jason Ward and the Lomelis have been tried.

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












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