A jury convicted a Logan Square man Friday in the slaying of a DePaul honor student who was shot to death during a Halloween party in 2009.
Jurors found Narcisco Gatica, 21, guilty of murder and aggravated battery with a firearm after deliberating for about two hours following a weeklong trial examining the murder of DePaul University student Francisco “Frankie” Valencia, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. Valencia's friend and classmate Daisy Camacho was wounded in the Nov. 1, 2009 conflict that allegedly arose after Gatica and several other members of the Manic Latin Disciples gang were kicked out of a Halloween party in Humboldt Park.
Gatica is the second person convicted in the slaying of the honor student. Berly Valladres was convicted of providing the gun that was used to kill Valencia in June, and is serving a 70 year sentence for his role in the attack, NBC Chicago reports.
In a videotaped interview two days after the murder, Gatica confesses that he was the one seen on surveillance video firing a TEC-9 pistol four or five times into the party and says he thought he was shooting at rival gang members, the Chicago Tribune reports. But throughout that interview and in subsequent conversations, Gatica's story changes. Assistant Public Defender Marijane Placek argued in court that that was because fellow fellow Disciples were trying to pin the murder on her client, who was trying to leave the gang.
"When gang members become less useful, they get sacrificed," she said, according to NBC.
The evidence against Gatica was damning. One of the first witnesses to testify, who lived just north of the party taking place on the 1700 block of North Rockwell that night, told the court he came face-to-face with Gatica shortly after Gatica ditched the murder weapon between two buildings and identified him in the courtroom, NBC reports.
"He was fumbling around underneath his hoodie," he said in court Monday. "And I heard metal hit metal."
Prosecutors told the Sun-Times that Gatica faces a minimum of 45 years in prison for the murder charge, plus at least six for the additional aggravated battery charge. He returns to court for sentencing Oct. 21.
“I’m so angry. I’m so angry that they took our son’s life because they wanted to go to a party,” Valencia’s mother, Joy McCormack said, according to the Sun-Times.