Gang member guilty of killing DePaul student
By Lauren FitzPatrick Sun-Times Media firstname.lastname@example.org September 16, 2011 12:38PM
Updated: November 10, 2011 11:26AM
After the second of two gangbangers was convicted Friday of gunning down her son at a Halloween party in 2009, after she hugged her family and cried, Joy McCormack turned her focus away from the violent death of Francisco “Frankie” Valencia Jr.
“We want to spend time honoring our son’s life and honoring the 21 years of beauty that we had, instead of focusing on his death and his suffering,” she said after a Cook County jury announced its guilty verdict against Narciso Gatica, 21, for killing Valencia and wounding his friend and DePaul University classmate Daisy Camacho.
“I just hope that the citizens of Chicago will start to come together so that the mothers like me don’t have to continue to bury our children in senseless violence,” she said.
“Gangbangers, stop killing our children. You’re cowards, you hide behind your guns. You kill innocent people.”
Jurors deliberated two hours before they found Gatica guilty of murder and aggravated battery with a firearm.
Prosecutors said during the week-long trial that Valencia was shot and killed because some Maniac Latin Disciples were mad about being thrown out of a private Halloween party in the 1700 block of North Rockwell in 2009. Berly “Billy” Valladares and Gatica returned; Valladares gave Gatica a TEC-9 semiautomatic handgun and Gatica opened fire in the gangway, hitting Camacho and Valencia.
Valladares, 23, a self-admitted Maniac Latin Disciple, was sentenced in July to 70 years in prison for his role in the murder. Gatica, 21, faces a minimum of 45 years for murdering Valencia, plus at least another six for shooting Camacho. He returns to court on Oct. 21.
Identified by a neighbor and again by a gang member, Gatica gave a statement to police admitting he fired shots, trying to hit some other gang members.
Surveillance cameras in the area also recorded the shooting, showing the hooded gunman opening fire then fleeing north away from the others. Prosecutors played the footage during the trial and used snippets of it and of Gatica’s recorded confession to police during closing arguments.
“The evidence speaks for Frankie today,” Assistant State’s Attorney Mark Shlifka said at the end of his arguments, showing jurors photos of Valencia.
Assistant public defender Marijane Placek argued before jurors that the video wasn’t clear enough to identify Gatica; she said the gold embroidery on the back of the black hoodie he was wearing that night would have shown up on the recording. None of the witnesses mentioned its giant logo, proof she said that Gatica wasn’t there.
It was Maniac Latin Disciples who opened fire, she said, but Gatica was not among them.
“I believe in this particular case what happened is the gangs won,” Placek said after the verdict. “Because they set up this young man. He was trying to get out of the gangs.”
Placek plans to appeal.
Gatica sat stonefaced throughout the arguments and the reading of the verdict. His family, who filled several courtroom benches closest to him, covered their faces and filed out of the courthouse in pairs. They declined to comment.