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Spurned lover inadvertently kills girlfriend’s neighbor in torching: prosecutors

Updated: November 9, 2013 6:18AM

A spurned lover was so desperate for revenge that he torched his girlfriend’s Southwest Side home, inadvertently killing her neighbor, prosecutors said Monday as the alleged arsonist’s trial began.

Juan Adame, 39, of Cicero, doused Blanca Ortiz’s couch and bedroom in gasoline before igniting a fire that claimed the life of Ortiz’s 60-year-old neighbor, James Maca, on Jan. 14, 2012, Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle Nasser told jurors.

The case was about “control, revenge and the tragedy that resulted,” the prosecutor said.

Adame became “obsessed” after he started dating Ortiz in August 2011, and he flew into a rage when they broke up the evening before the blaze, Nasser said.

During a heated argument, Ortiz tried to get away from Adame outside her second home in Indiana, but Adame was so enraged that he ripped the door handle from her car as she sped off, the prosecutor said.

Adame — furious that Ortiz told him she was going back to Mexico, where she had an ex-boyfriend — then ransacked Ortiz’s home, stole her Ford Mustang, enlisted an ex-girlfriend as an unwitting accomplice and drove to Ortiz’s apartment in the 4200 block of West 63rd Street, where he stole more possessions and set the fire, it’s alleged.

Though Ortiz wasn’t home, Maca was. He “hung out the window and screamed for help” before succumbing to smoke inhalation, Nasser said. Text messages between Ortiz and Adame, and testimony from Ortiz and the ex-girlfriend — who sat in a car a block away while Adame allegedly started the deadly fire — will prove he’s guilty, she added.

But defense attorney Frank Avila told jurors to “ask the right questions.”

“There’s no eye-witnesses,” he said, adding, “There’s no motive — being in love or being rejected is not enough of a motive to do this stuff.”

The trial is due to continue Tuesday.


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