JOLIET, IL (STMW) — A southwest suburban Joliet man has been convicted of first-degree murder in connection with the shooting death of a man inside the Lois Place apartment complex in 2009.

A jury deliberated for four hours Thursday before finding Pedro Sanchez, 32, guilty of two counts of first-degree murder for the killing of Robert Gooch on May 22, 2009, according to a press release from the Will County State’s Attorney’s Office.

Another man, Jesus Zambrano, 20, of Joliet, has also been charged with first-degree murder in this case and is awaiting trial, the release said.

Sanchez faces between 35 and 75 years in prison when he is sentenced by Circuit Judge Amy Bertani-Tomczak on June 2, according to the state’s attorney’s office.

Sanchez and Zambrano confronted Gooch at the apartment of Gooch’s girlfriend, Ellissa Hinton, according to testimony during the three-day trial. Hinton testified she was having sex occasionally with Sanchez, but that she didn’t want to leave Gooch so their relationship could go further, the release said.

Hinton testified she and Gooch had watched the NBA playoffs and had gone to bed on the night of the murder. Later that evening, Gooch answered the apartment’s buzzer while she remained in the bedroom, the release said.

Hinton testified she heard Sanchez’s voice in the living room and someone saying “my girl” just before she heard a single gunshot.

She then went to the living room to find Gooch lying on the floor bleeding from the head, the release said.

An autopsy later revealed Gooch died from a gunshot wound to the back of the head. Gooch’s two young children were sleeping on a sofa bed in the living room at the time of the murder, according to the release.

Assistant State’s Attorneys Michael Fitzgerald and Dan Walsh entered into evidence security tapes from the apartment complex showing Sanchez and Zambrano arriving at the parking lot in the defendant’s car, getting out of the vehicle and then returning to the car before driving away.

Another witness testified he saw Zambrano retrieve a gun from under the hood of Sanchez’s car before the two entered the apartment complex, according to the release.

The gun was never recovered and there was no direct evidence to show specifically whether Sanchez or Zambrano pulled the trigger, the release said.

However, Fitzgerald and Walsh argued that Sanchez and Zambrano both are accountable under the law, regardless of which one fired the weapon.

Zambrano, who also faces two counts of first-degree murder, is scheduled to appear in court for a pretrial on May 4.

© Sun-Times Media Wire Chicago Sun-Times 2011. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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