Gang member found guilty of murdering 5-year-old in Elgin - New York News

Gang member found guilty of murdering 5-year-old in Elgin

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Provided Photo | Elgin Police Provided Photo | Elgin Police
ROLLING MEADOWS, Ill. (Sun-Times Media Wire) -

Miguel Hernandez Jr. was found guilty on all three charges in the murder of 5-year-old Eric Galarza Jr. on Thursday, the Courier-News is reporting.

The 29-yer-old Hernandez, a factory worker and member of the Elgin Latin Kings street gang, was accused of firing six shots into a car occupied by Eric Galarza Sr. and his family on Oct. 7, 2011.

Galarza’s son, Eric Galarza Jr., was killed by a single bullet wound to his forehead.

Galarza Sr. admitted in earlier testimony that he had become a government informer who “snitched” on the gang.

After the first four hours of deliberation Wednesday, the jury sent a note to Judge Bridget Hughes saying it had reached a verdict on two of the three charges. The jurors asked the judge, “Is it all or nothing? What happens to the third count that we aren’t all in agreement on?”

The three charges in Hernandez’s indictment were that he committed the murder; that he attempted to murder Eric Galarza Sr.; and that he personally used a gun in the commission of a murder.

The judge sent back word to the jury that they should “continue to deliberate until you have reached a verdict on each allegation.”

Hernandez’s lawyers argued that the shooting was committed, without Hernandez’s help or knowledge, by another gang member riding in the same pickup.

First-degree murder is punishable by 20 to 60 years in prison. But if the perpetrator personally used a gun, Illinois law adds 25 years to that potential sentence.

The case went to the jury Wednesday evening with two pleas to the jurors.

Defense attorney Damon Cheronis said the charges are based on “a long line of witnesses who can’t be trusted.”

But speaking of the 5-year-old shooting victim, Assistant Cook County State’s Attorney Michael Clarke said that “Eric’s life may be over. But his story is not yet complete. You (jurors) should write that last chapter and you should entitle that chapter ‘Justice’.”

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