JOLIET — Will County States Attorney James Glasgow announced that a second defendant has been convicted of murder in connection with a firebombing that killed a mother and her 4-year-old daughter.
A jury late Wednesday evening (Sept. 19, 2007) found Ignacio Jacobo, 21, guilty on four counts of first-degree murder and one count of aggravated arson.
Jacobo threw a rock through the first-floor window of a house at 419 Madeline St. in Joliets St. Patricks Neighborhood in the early-morning hours of April 9, 2005. A second defendant, Juan Santana, 28, then threw a firebomb through the broken window.
A fire spread quickly through the two-story house. Maria DeLourdes Nunez, 35, and her young daughter, Merary Nunez, died from smoke inhalation in an upstairs bedroom.
Firefighters found Nunez lying on top of Merary in what they believe was a desperate attempt to protect her daughter from the smoke and fire that engulfed the house. Both Nunez and her daughter were dead by the time rescuers reached them.
Santana already has been convicted and sentenced to life in prison for his role in the murders. Jacobo also faces life in prison when he is sentenced by Circuit Judge Richard Schoenstedt on Nov. 28.
Testimony during Jacobos trial revealed that the two men firebombed the house because they believed one of Merarys older brothers belonged to a rival gang. The brother, who was 14 at the time of the firebombing, testified he was a pretend gang member.
Ignacio Jacobo and Juan Santana firebombed a house and killed a young mother and her innocent 4-year-old daughter because they wanted to retaliate against a defenseless14-year-old child, Glasgow said. This irrational act of lethal brutality was perpetrated by two gutless gang bangers who couldnt run away fast enough. Thanks to the truly incredible investigation by the Joliet Police Department, they couldnt run far or fast enough.
Nunezs two sons were sleeping in the house when Santana and Jacobo threw the firebomb. One of the brothers tried to put out what started as a small fire, but he abandoned his efforts as flames and smoke spread.
One woman testified she saw two men running toward a white Jeep Cherokee with a red interior shortly after the house was firebombed. She memorized the license plate number and reported it to police, who traced the vehicle to its owner.
The owner of the Jeep testified he had lent his vehicle to Santana, Jacobo and another man, Sergio Anguiano, 24, of Joliet, on the night of the firebombing.
Anguiano, who testified for the prosecution, drove Santana and Jacobo to the scene. He parked a block away from the Nunez house. But he said he did not see the firebombing and did not know Santana and Jacobo intended to torch the house.
In exchange for his truthful testimony, Anguiano will be allowed to enter a blind plead of guilty to charges of aggravated arson. He faces up to 20 years in prison upon conviction.
Two of Glasgows top prosecutors, First Assistant States Attorney Greg DeBord and Criminal Division Chief Lea Norbut-Sicinski, tried the cases against both Santana and Jacobo to successful jury verdicts.
These first-class prosecutors closed a sad and terrible case by securing convictions that will remove two callous murderers from society, Glasgow said.