WAUKEGAN, Ill. (STMW) — The man accused of holding a gun on 27-year-old David Campbell as he was tortured and killed in a north suburban Waukegan body shop in July 2011 was sentenced Thursday to 59 years in prison.
Jose Horta, 21, of Waukegan, had been found guilty by a Lake County jury in November of first-degree murder in the death of Campbell, also of Waukegan.
Judge Mark Levitt sentenced Horta to 44 years for the first-degree murder conviction and an additional 15 years under state enhancement statutes for the involvement of a firearm in the murder.
Levitt told Horta that his actions caused Campbell’s family “unimaginable suffering” as they remember the manner in which he died.
Just prior to being sentenced, Horta told the court that he felt the “guy that actually committed the crime” was never charged or tried, referring to a potential participating suspect that officials said they have been unable to identify.
But Horta also said “I’m sorry. May the Lord be with the Campbell family.”
According to police and prosecutors, Horta held a gun on Campbell while other defendants in the case briefly interrogated him, beat him with a hammer and burned him with a blowtorch after setting up a fake drug deal to lure him to the body shop on July 5, 2011.
Horta also helped dispose of Campbell’s body in the Penny Road Forest Preserve in the Barrington area of Cook County, officials said.
Horta was one of several defendants charged in the murder. Prosecutors said the group believed that Campbell had participated in the kidnapping and robbery of defendants in the case, and the sexual assault of one of them.
Assistant State’s Attorney Jim Newman said an investigation “did not turn up a shred of evidence” showing that Campbell had been involved, and that the assailants had targeted him based on the shoes he was wearing.
“What this defendant and his friends did was comparable to a vigilante mob,” Newman said.
Roberto Guzman of Waukegan pleaded guilty to murder in the case and was sentenced to 29 years in prison; Nadia Palacios, 23, also of Waukegan, accused of using a blowtorch to torture Campbell, has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder charges and her trial is scheduled April 28. Eric Castillo, 26, of Beach Park, was convicted of first-degree murder earlier this year and scheduled for sentencing April 9.
Defense attorney Robert Ritacca had argued that Horta’s sentence should have been closer to that given to Guzman, because Guzman, although he pleaded guilty, was accused of organizing the attack and had a more extensive criminal history than Horta, who had one prior felony conviction for defrauding a drug test.
A victim impact statement from the family, read at the hearing, said that “not only did you take a son, but a father, brother and uncle,” and that the crime left the family with a “gaping emotional wound.”
(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2014. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)