March 4, 2011
Monta Travis, 18, was found guilty of three counts of first-degree murder and one count of armed robbery in December at the conclusion of a bench trial presided over by Circuit Judge Amy Bertani-Tomczak.
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.
“Monta Travis gunned down an innocent man who was selling ice cream from a push cart on a summer day and working hard to provide for his family,” State’s Attorney Glasgow said. “Because of his act of callous greed and brutality, and thanks to the hard work by Joliet police and my prosecutors, Travis will spend the better part of his life in prison where he cannot harm another innocent person.”
Assistant State’s Attorneys Debbie Mills and Michael Fitzgerald prosecuted the case and secured the conviction. Fitzgerald is Glasgow’s Felony Division Chief. Mills is the state’s attorney’s Misdemeanor Division Chief. Both are members of the Special Prosecutions Team, which reviews and prosecutes the office’s most complex criminal cases.
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.