Man sentenced to 61 years for 2009 murder inside Joliet apartment

January 6

JOLIET – Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow announced that a Joliet man who gunned down another man inside the Lois Place apartment complex in 2009 has been sentenced to 61 years in prison.

Circuit Judge Amy Bertani-Tomczak sentenced Pedro Sanchez, 33, on Friday. A jury in March found Sanchez guilty of two counts of first-degree murder for the killing of Robert Gooch on May 22, 2009. Another man, Jesus Zambrano, 20, of Joliet, also has been charged with murder and is awaiting trial.

Sanchez and Zambrano confronted Gooch at the apartment of Gooch’s girlfriend, Ellissa Hinton, according to trial testimony. Hinton testified she would have sex occasionally with Sanchez, but that she didn’t want to leave Gooch so her relationship with Sanchez could go further.

Hinton testified she and Gooch had watched the NBA playoffs and had gone to bed on the night of the murder. Later that evening, Gooch answered the apartment’s buzzer while she remained in the bedroom. She testified she heard Sanchez’s voice in the living room and someone saying “my girl” just before she heard a single gunshot.

She went to the living room to find Gooch lying on the floor bleeding from the head. An autopsy later revealed Gooch died from a gunshot wound to the back of the head. Gooch’s two young children were sleeping on a sofa bed in the living room at the time of the murder.

“It was an act of unspeakable depravity to shoot an unarmed man in the head while his two children slept nearby,” said State’s Attorney Glasgow. “Pedro Sanchez can spend the next 61 years in prison contemplating this vicious murder and the trauma he caused the victim’s two children.”  

Assistant State’s Attorneys Michael Fitzgerald and Dan Walsh entered into evidence security tapes from the apartment complex showing Sanchez and Zambrano arriving at the parking lot in the defendant’s car, getting out of the vehicle and then returning to the car. Another witness testified he saw Zambrano retrieve a gun from under the hood of Sanchez’s car before the two entered the apartment complex.

The gun was never recovered and there was no direct evidence to show whether Sanchez or Zambrano pulled the trigger. However, Fitzgerald and Walsh argued that Sanchez and Zambrano both are accountable under the law, regardless of which one fired the weapon.

Zambrano also faces two counts of first-degree murder. The Will County State’s Attorney’s Office reminds the public that charges and indictments are not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.