Gang member sentenced to 90 years for DePaul student’s murder
BY LAUREN FITZPATRICK Sun-Times Media email@example.com October 21, 2011 3:24PM
Updated: November 23, 2011 8:08AM
Daisy Camacho survived being shot in the neck at a Halloween party two years ago by gangbangers who’d been asked to leave, but she lives on with the terrible guilt that the friend she invited was killed.
Francisco “Frankie” Valencia Jr., her friend from DePaul University, only went to the party because of her, she told a Cook County judge Friday at the sentencing of their shooter, Narcisco Gatica.
“The idea that he died on my watch destroys me,” she read, punctuating her impact statement with sobs. “These scars on my neck can never be as deep as the ones forever ingrained on the strands of my heart.”
Gatica gunned down Valencia, 21, and injured Camacho after he and others were asked to the Halloween party two years ago.
“Ms. Camacho, it’s not your fault, it’s the defendant’s fault for his selfish and senseless act,” Cook County Judge Matthew Coghlan said, sentencing Gatica to 90 years in prison.
Camacho testified against Gatica and at the trial of his convicted codefendant, Berly “Billy” Valladares, the fellow Maniac Latin Disciple who’s serving 70 years in prison for supplying the TEC-9 handgun whose bullets pierced her neck and killed her dear friend.
A jury convicted Gatica in September, agreeing he opened fire down the gangway of the party house in the 1700 block of North Rockwell. His attorneys argued he was a fall guy for higher-level Maniac Latin Disciples who carried out the shooting, and could not be identified on the grainy surveillance video that captured the shooting.
Valencia’s mother, Joy McCormack, and sister, Christian Mora, said in emotional statements of their own that he dreamed of running for office so he could serve as a voice for Latino youths. Valencia was buried the same day he was supposed to receive a Lincoln Laureate Award for outstanding college students.
None of Gatica’s relatives who attended the hearing spoke on his behalf. Nor did Gatica, 21, who did not testify in his own defense at his trial either.
He maintains his innocence and plans to appeal, Assistant Public Defender Marijane Placek said.
Placek argued for the minimum sentence of 51 years for the murder and aggravated battery with a firearm convictions, which already practically guaranteed he’ll die behind bars.
“What’s going to happen? No one’s going to be happy,” she said. “Mr. Gatica will be away from his children and his family. The minimum will do it.”