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No bond for pair charged with murdering Melrose Park woman

Updated: January 19, 2013 5:11PM

A man who was released from prison two months ago was one of two convicted felons ordered held without bond on Saturday for allegedly killing a Melrose Park woman during a robbery.

Maricela Vera, a mother of two, was robbed of her purse on Jan. 15. in a garage in the 1800 block of North 21st Street, then shot in the face, Cook County prosecutors said.

Marquis L. Byrd, 26 and Jeffrey J. Cooper, 18, are each charged with three counts of first degree murder, one count of armed robbery and one count of aggravate vehicular hijacking.

Both were arrested within 15 minutes of the shooting, within a block. Five bullets were also recovered less than a block from the shooting in Melrose Park. And the gun used in the shooting and ammunition were found in Cooper’s home, prosecutors said.

Cooper allegedly confessed on video to obtaining the weapon and planning an armed robbery. He also told someone that “he had done something bad,” authorities said.

Byrd is believed to have been the shooter, and police found gunshot residue on this hands, prosecutors said. Surveillance nearby allegedly caught the men nearly 15 minutes before the shooting.

Byrd was on parole for an aggravated vehicular hijacking conviction in 2007 in which he was sentenced to 11 years in prison. He was released in November. Cooper had no criminal history except being arrested as a juvenile in 2011.

Alfredo Villareal, a family friend of Vera’s, was one of a dozen people who came to Saturday’s bond hearing.

He said Vera, 41, was a sweet, good-natured woman who put family first and financially supported them.

“We feel a little bit of justice coming through so far,” Villareal said.

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