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home : news : local   May 24, 2016

5/21/2013 11:59:00 PM
State: Lomeli inflicted fatal knife wound


Tom Collins
NewsTribune Senior Reporter



OTTAWA — First responders found Darrio Hunter bleeding from a “large laceration” to his forehead and testified Tuesday he could only mumble incoherently.
Hunter died minutes later on May 2, 2011, and never identified his assailants. But during opening statements at the first of three scheduled murder trials, La Salle County prosecutors said the one who inflicted the knife wound to Hunter’s head was 27-year-old Luis Lomeli.
Lomeli, prosecutor Greg Sticka said, was unhappy with the substandard cocaine Hunter had just delivered him and his party. Rather than demand a refund or exchange, however, Sticka said Lomeli and his companions quickly hatched a scheme to lure Hunter back to the house, under the guise of selling them more drugs, and then rob him.
That, Sticka said, “culminated in a rampage of violence.” Lomeli and fellow suspect Jason Ward “savagely attacked” Hunter and it was Lomeli who inflicted the apparently fatal knife wound to Hunter’s forehead.
Lomeli is charged with first-degree murder, but prosecutors need only prove Lomeli intended to rob Hunter to obtain a conviction for felony murder.
For that reason, Lomeli’s lawyers denied there was a robbery scheme. Defense lawyers admitted there was a struggle, but Lomeli only wrestled the knife from Hunter after he threatened a few companions including Lomeli’s sister.
“Was there a drug deal? Yes, there was,” asserted Leyla Parada, one of Lomeli’s defense lawyers. “Was there a fight? Yes, there was.
“Was there a robbery? No, there was not.”
A jury of 12 plus one alternate (a second alternate was excused) will have to decide which story is true — and nobody involved appears to have been particularly law-abiding.
Though Sticka, during his opening statements, tiptoed around how Hunter made his living, the evidence so far shows he was a drug dealer who peddled cocaine and delivered an unspecified quantity to his assailants.
Lomeli and his cohorts, meanwhile, were reportedly engaged in a lengthy drug and alcohol bender that turned violent after Hunter delivered them a bad batch of coke. According to court records, the party had capped off a crime spree in which Lomeli and company robbed or attempted to rob three other men in an eight-hour span leading up to Hunter’s death.
Tuesday’s testimony was focused on the evidence recovered from the crime scene located on Ottawa’s west side. A crime scene technician recovered blood-like stains from several rooms inside the home, which would seem to indicate a protracted struggle.
Sticka told jurors that forthcoming witnesses would tell how the suspects attempted to discard the clothes worn during Hunter’s bloody killing. After that, he said, Lomeli and Ward were apprehended in an Aurora motel room they had so heavily barricaded that police pulled the door off the hinges when a battering ram failed.
Parada warned jurors to cast a wary eye at the forthcoming witnesses and to question seriously their credibility, or lack thereof, as each faces criminal charges.
She didn’t name names, but court records previously indicated murder suspect Joshua Ward (Jason’s brother) had become a cooperating witness for the state and so had Sylvia Enriquez, Luis’ “on-again, off-again” girlfriend, as Sticka described her.
Either Joshua Ward and/or Enriquez could appear as early as today when the trial resumes.

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








Related Stories:
• Ex-girlfriend: Defendant threatened victim
• Turncoat murder suspect describes robbery, fatal beating





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