Trial delayed for man accused of torture, murder
By Jim Newton firstname.lastname@example.org August 27, 2013 9:17PM
Updated: September 29, 2013 6:41AM
The trial of a defendant in one of the most gruesome murders in recent Lake County history has been delayed due to the filing of last-minute defense motions.
Jose Horta, 20, of Waukegan, faces first-degree murder charges in the death of Waukegan resident David Campell, 27, who police say was lured by several attackers to a Waukegan body shop on July 5, 2011, tortured with a blowtorch, beaten with a hammer and strangled to death.
Authorities allege Horta held a gun on Campell during the attack and later dumped his body in Barrington Hills.
Defense attorney Robert Ritacca filed several motions on Tuesday, Aug 27, including one to suppress recorded statements Horta made to police and others to quash testimony from other defendants from being used against Horta in his upcoming trial.
Lake County Circuit Court Judge George Bridges allowed the motions to be filed, although they were past a deadline set in the case, and rescheduled Horta’s trial from next Tuesday to Oct. 15.
A hearing on the motions has been scheduled for Sept. 11.
Assistant State’s Attorney Jim Newman said he didn’t formally object to the court’s allowing the motions because an appellate court could order a retrial if the motions were not heard prior to the trial.
Ritacca said Horta is the “least culpable” of the defendants in the case and that detectives misled him during questioning by intimating that they were more interested in garnering evidence against the other defendants.
Ritacca also said he is trying to negotiate a potential plea deal with prosecutors, but Newman said that considering the allegations against Horta and the potential penalties involved, the state would not accept a deal such as the 29-year negotiated sentence accepted for defendant Roberto Guzman, 25, of Waukegan, in exchange for his guilty plea to first degree murger.
Horta faces a sentencing range of at least 20 to 60 years in prison if convicted.
The murder, according to prosecutors, resulted from a case of mistaken identity.
Guzman, Horta, Eric Castillo, 25, of Beach Park and Nadia Palacios, 23, of Waukegan had mistakenly targeted Campbell as one of three men who had kidnapped Guzman and sexually assaulted Palacios July 1, 2011, officials said.
Three masked assailants kidnapped Guzman for drugs and money and sexually assaulted Palacios, who was with Guzman at the time, according to reports.
Palacios identified Campbell as her attacker because he wore shoes similar to those of her assailants. Guzman arranged a fake drug deal to capture Campbell. Campbell was tortured with a blowtorch to his groin, beaten with a hammer and then strangled, police said. Campbell’s body was dumped in a pond in a forest preserve in Barrington Hills.
Palacios and Castillo have each pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder charges.
Prior to being sentenced under the negotiated plea, Guzman admitted that he helped set the murder up, but claimed he was at his mother’s house when Campbell was being murdered.
Police said Palacios confessed to the murder, eventually leading to the arrests of the other defendants.