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home : news : local   April 29, 2016

8/17/2013 6:20:00 AM
Murder suspect asks judge for change of venue


Tom Collins
NewsTribune Senior Reporter



The last person awaiting trial in the Darrio Hunter killing wants her jury trial moved out of La Salle County.


OTTAWA — The last person awaiting trial in the Darrio Hunter killing wants her jury trial moved out of La Salle County.

Jamie Lomeli, 32, of Ottawa appeared Friday in La Salle County Circuit Court with a change of venue motion. She and her lawyer believe that the news coverage of her brother’s trial, as well as guilty pleas by others, would make it impossible for her to get a fair and impartial jury.

For now, Lomeli remains set for trial Aug. 26 in Ottawa; but her judge could address the venue question at a final hearing now set for Friday, Aug. 23.

Lomeli is charged with first-degree murder (sentencing range: 20-60 years) even though evidence presented in other cases indicates she never laid a finger on Hunter. Instead, it was her brother Luis Lomeli and friend Jason Ward who inflicted Hunter’s fatal injuries during a 2011 robbery in Jamie’s home.

However, Jamie Lomeli is charged with felony murder for allegedly luring Hunter to her home under the guise of buying cocaine from him — and knowing that Hunter would be robbed upon arrival.

Venue motions are periodically raised in La Salle County; but none have been granted in any murder cases in recent years. Convicted murderer Keith Mackowiak raised the issue before his 2012 trial but the motion was quietly withdrawn before jury selection was begun.

Prosecutors have so far obtained murder convictions for Luis Lomeli (45 years) and for Jason Ward (30 years, with time coming from Kane County). They also have a deal in place with one-time murder suspect Joshua Ward, who faces a reduced charge and about 13 years in exchange for his cooperation.

A fifth suspect, Sylvia Enriquez, was charged as an accessory; she pleaded guilty to obstructing justice and received a time-served disposition.

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












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