December 13, 2010
Monta Travis, 18, was found guilty of three counts of first-degree murder and one count of armed robbery on Monday at the conclusion of a bench trial presided over by Circuit Judge Amy Bertani-Tomczak. He faces an enhanced sentence of between 45 years to life in prison when he is sentenced on Feb. 14 because the judge found he personally discharged the firearm causing the victim’s death.
Travis gunned down Manuel Villagomez, who was pushing an ice cream cart in the 300 block of Grant Avenue at about 1 p.m. on Aug. 26, 2007.
Travis rode his bicycle up to the victim, shot him three times and left him to die in the street. Travis and an accomplice, Curtis Russell Jr., 23, of Joliet, stole an undisclosed amount of cash from Villagomez before fleeing.
Joliet police picked up Travis on the afternoon of the murder based on eyewitness reports of the shooting. The defendant confessed to the murder and robbery while being questioned by police.
Assistant State’s Attorneys Debbie Mills and Michael Fitzgerald prosecuted the case and secured the conviction.
“Manuel Villagomez was trying to make an honest living selling ice cream from a push cart when Monta Travis gunned him down in cold blood,” State’s Attorney Glasgow said. “Through his ruthless greed, this teenager demonstrated his callous disregard for the sanctity of human life. Thanks to the hard work by Joliet police and my prosecutors, it will be a minimum of 45 years before he is free to walk our streets again.”
Russell pleaded guilty to his role in the murder in 2008 and was sentenced to 20 years prison. Mills and Fitzgerald also prosecuted the case against Russell
Charles B. Pelkie
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