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home : news : local   May 3, 2016

5/23/2013 11:59:00 PM
Ex-girlfriend: Defendant threatened victim


Tom Collins
NewsTribune Senior Reporter



OTTAWA — Sylvia Enriquez said she’d slipped out of the room because she didn’t want to see the brawl that had spilled inside — and she therefore didn’t see who stabbed Darrio Hunter.
But when she re-entered the Ottawa bedroom on May 2, 2011, Enriquez said she saw Hunter sprawled onto a bed with his face covered in blood from various knife wounds. Standing over Hunter was her then-boyfriend, Luis Lomeli, shouting at Hunter and using a racial slur.
“(Luis was) saying that he hates (Negroes) and he should have killed him,” Enriquez testified Wednesday.
If a jury believes her story, it could spell trouble for her former boyfriend. Lomeli, 27, of Sheridan is on trial this week for first-degree murder. Prosecutors allege that he and a second man (awaiting trial) robbed, beat and stabbed Hunter, who later died from blunt-force trauma and blood loss.
There is, however, a wrinkle to her testimony the jury will have to consider: Wednesday was the first time Enriquez ever mentioned the slur or the threat to kill Hunter. Under cross-examination, Enriquez admitted she’d given three previous statements and never once said Lomeli threatened Hunter or used the N-word.
Prosecutors could conclude their case in chief today and seem to be banking on eyewitness testimony from Enriquez and another suspect to get Lomeli convicted.
Tuesday, Joshua Ward testified that Lomeli and his brother Jason Ward hatched a scheme to rob Hunter after he delivered them a batch of substandard cocaine. When Hunter showed, he said, Lomeli and Jason beat Hunter with their fists and then kicked and stomped him when he fell to the ground. This followed an earlier spree in which they robbed or attempted to rob men in Kane County.
Wednesday, Enriquez took the stand and spelled out a virtually identical string of events. After procuring $300 in an Aurora robbery — and then trying to beat more cash out of Enriquez’s former boyfriend — the companions returned to Ottawa to buy drugs. They sent for Hunter, who delivered a gram of cocaine that Lomeli and Jason angrily termed “garbage.”
“They decided they were going to purchase more,” Enriquez testified, “but this time they’re going to rob him.”
Enriquez admitted she didn’t see as much of the fight as Joshua Ward had. She withdrew from her companions when it looked as if there would be violence.
Nevertheless, her testimony largely corroborated Joshua Ward’s from a day earlier. Both told the jury that Lomeli and Jason planned the robbery and inflicted most of the damage to Hunter, who didn’t get in many punches of his own.
But will the jury believe them? Enriquez and Joshua Ward each worked out deals in exchange for their testimony. Joshua Ward was initially charged with murder but faces 30 years (15 served) for armed robbery — and this despite a long criminal record and no show of remorse from the witness stand.
Enriquez, by contrast, has only a misdemeanor conviction and faces just 3 years in prison. She, however, agreed to flip to avoid more serious time in Kane County for her part in the robbery spree.
Lomeli’s lawyers also caught some discrepancies between Wednesday’s testimony and the statements Enriquez gave police after she was arrested in 2011 and charged for her part in Hunter’s death.
Two years ago, she said Joshua Ward was engaged in the fight that killed Hunter; now, she claims he was a passive bystander. In 2011, she told police it was Jason Ward who hatched the robbery scheme; now, she claims it was Jason and Lomeli. Back then, she told the cops she took the knife from Hunter’s hand; now, she claims she picked it off the floor.
The knife is a major point of contention. Lomeli’s lawyers have suggested it was Hunter who attempted a robbery and that he brandished the knife before a single punch was thrown.
Lomeli and his lawyers will get the case Tuesday (the courts are closed Memorial Day) if prosecutors finish up today as scheduled.

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








Related Stories:
• Turncoat murder suspect describes robbery, fatal beating
• State: Lomeli inflicted fatal knife wound





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