Waukegan woman, 23, pleads guilty in blowtorch torture-murder case

Nadia Palacios
Nadia Palacios

Accused of using a blowtorch in the 2011 torture-murder of Waukegan resident David Campbell, Nadia Palacios pleaded guilty to first-degree murder Tuesday in Lake County Circuit Court.

Palacios’ plea was accepted by Judge George Bridges, who set a court date of Aug. 21 to determine a future sentencing date.

The Waukegan 23-year-old faces 20 to 60 years in prison, and must serve 100 percent of her sentence, according to Assistant State’s Attorney Jim Newman.

In exchange for her guilty plea, the state is dropping several other counts of first-degree murder against Palacios, as well as an illegal discharge of a weapon charge from a separate case.

The agreement came after pretrial motions to quash her arrest and suppress evidence were denied last month.

Palacios is the last of several defendants to either plead guilty or be convicted at trial in the July 5, 2011 murder of Campbell, 27, in a Waukegan body shop.

Palacios was arrested at Grand Liquors in Waukegan in 2012 after reports of shots fired traced back to a car identified as hers. Police said they found two spent shotgun shells in her purse.

During subsequent interviews with Waukegan police, officials said she began talking about details of Campbell’s 2011 killing and was eventually charged with first-degree murder.

Prosecutors have said Campbell may have been a victim of mistaken identity, with his attackers believing he had been involved in a previous kidnapping and robbery that included a sexual act against Palacios.

Other defendants who were charged in the murder include Roberto Guzman of Waukegan, who pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 29 years in prison; Jose Horta of Waukegan, who was convicted by a jury and sentenced to 59 years in prison; and Eric Castillo of Beach Park, who was also convicted of first-degree murder by a jury earlier this year and was sentenced to 35 years in prison.

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