Joliet man sentenced to natural life in 2001 slaying

February 29

JOLIET – Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow announced that a Will County Judge has sentenced a Joliet man to natural life in prison for the 2001 slaying of 24-year-old Darnell Washington.

A jury in November found Paul Quintero, 31, guilty of shooting Washington multiple times in the side of his face on Nov. 2, 2001. The victim’s body was discovered on the side of Farrell Road near U.S. 6. A sport utility vehicle Washington had been driving the evening he was killed had been torched and was found near McDonough Street and Joyce Road.

Associate Judge Robert Livas sentenced Quintero on Friday morning.

“Paul Quintero is a vicious killer who callously gunned down Darnell Washington in the prime of his life,” State’s Attorney Glasgow said. “There is simply no way to ever comprehend such abject disregard for the dignity of human life. Nothing can ever compensate Darnell Washington’s devoted parents for the tragic loss of their son. However, our system of justice has guaranteed them, and all of the citizens of Will County, that they can rest assured this cold-hearted murderer will never set foot on our streets again.”

Charles and Yvonne Washington, who are Darnell Washington’s parents, waited six years for justice. Quintero’s conviction in November arrived shortly before the sixth anniversary of their son’s death.

The Washingtons were told by officials from the administration of the prior state’s attorney, who held office from 2000-2004, that they would not file charges against Quintero because the case could never be proved. At the conclusion of Quintero’s trial in November, the Washingtons thanked Glasgow and his assistant state’s attorneys, Neil Adams and Jim Long, for championing their cause.

Shortly after Glasgow was elected state’s attorney in late 2004, the Washingtons asked the state’s attorney to review the investigation into their son’s murder. Will County sheriff’s detectives already had completed an exhaustive investigation that identified Quintero and another individual, Joseph Gonzalez, as suspects in Darnell Washington’s murder.

Quintero was serving a 38-year prison sentence at Pontiac Correctional Center for the 2000 shooting death of Michael Ceja in Joliet when Glasgow’s office obtained a murder indictment against him last year in the Washington case. The Ceja murder was still under investigation when Quintero killed Washington in November 2001.

Glasgow praised Assistant State’s Attorneys Adams and Long for skillful trial work that enabled jurors to reach a guilty verdict in little over an hour. Adams is the chief of Glasgow’s felony division.

The state’s attorney also credited Will County Sheriff Paul Kaupas and his detectives for diligently pursuing this case. Their work led to the arrest of Joseph Gonzalez, 26, of Joliet, in July 2005. Gonzalez was with Quintero when he shot Darnell Washington.

Gonzalez also was a key witness at Quintero’s trial. He testified he was in the back seat of the sport utility vehicle that Darnell Washington was driving. Quintero was in the passenger seat and asked Washington to pull over on Farrell Road so he could urinate. After he stepped outside, Quintero reached through the passenger window and opened fire on Darnell Washington.

Because Gonzalez was the accomplice and less culpable and because his testimony was a critical piece of evidence in the case against Quintero, prosecutors allowed him to plead guilty in April 2006 to aggravated discharge of a firearm. He currently is serving a 15-year sentence in the Shawnee Correctional Center.