WAUKEGAN, Ill. (STMW) – Jury selection was under way when a north suburban man changed his mind about going to trial and took a plea deal in a blowtorch murder case, the Lake County News-Sun is reporting.
Attorneys were picking jurors Tuesday when Roberto Guzman, 25, of Waukegan admitted to first-degree murder. Guzman will serve 29 years in prison for luring David Campell, 27, to a Waukegan body shop on July 5, 2011, Assistant State’s Attorney Ken LaRue said.
Guzman, Jose Horta of Waukegan, Eric Castillo of Beach Park and Nadia Palacios mistakenly targeted Campbell as one of three men who had kidnapped Guzman and sexually assaulted Palacios on July 1, 2011, LaRue said.
Three masked assailants kidnapped Guzman for drugs and money, and sexually assaulted Palacios, who was with Guzman at the time, LaRue said.
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.
He was tortured with a blowtorch, beaten with a hammer and then strangled to death, police said. Campbell’s body was dumped in a pond in a Barrington-area forest preserve.
“We don’t believe David Campbell was part of the kidnapping,” LaRue said.
Guzman admitted Tuesday that he helped set the murder up, but claimed he was at his mother’s house when Campbell was being murdered, LaRue said.
Guzman could have spent 20 to 60 years in prison if a jury had convicted him of first-degree murder.
Palacios is accused of taking the blowtorch to Campell’s groin; Castillo is accused of strangling Campbell with a zip tie; and Horta is accused of dumping the body at Penny Road Pond in Barrington Hills, officials said.
Each has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder charges.
The defendants were apprehended after Palacios confessed to police, officials said. She was talking to police about an incident in which her boyfriend was alleged to have discharged a firearm at a lawn ornament in June 2012.
Police said Palacios confessed to the July 5, 2011, murder, eventually leading to the arrests of the others charged.
(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2013. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)