COOK COUNTY CRIMINAL COURTHOUSE — Latin King member Jovanny Martinez was sentenced to 75 years in prison for killing a 15-year-old who refused to flash a gang sign, a slaying the sentencing judge called the "most savage and most horrific" case she has heard.
Almost four years after the case drew the national spotlight for its brutality, Judge Maura Slattery-Boyle handed down a harsh sentence against one of the gang members who chased Alex Arellano down, ran him over, beat and shot him and lit him on fire.
"You did this for your gang," Slattery-Boyle said. "Where are they now? They aren't here. They left you."
Martinez was found guilty in April of pulling the trigger. His co-defendant, Erick Ortiz has not yet been sentenced.
Arellano's charred remains were found in an boarded up house the day after his murder. His mother cried in court during the sentencing Thursday.
"I even thought about taking my own life. ... I would ask Alex to come get me," Yeimi Tirado wrote in a victim impact presented to the court.
Prosecutors said that Alex Arellano, 15, was walking with a girlfriend he met on a social networking site in the Gage Park neighborhood in May 2009. The two were on their way to a birthday party when they were allegedly confronted by a group of teens demanding that Arellano show a gang sign.
When Arellano refused, denying any gang affiliation, the gangbangers beat him with baseball bats, ran him over with a car, shot him in the head and then set him on fire, prosecutors said.
"They were flexing their Latin King muscles," said Assistant State's Attorney John Maher, recapping in closing arguments Monday how the street gang had "taken over" part of the city. "Essentially, if the Latin Kings don't like your haircut, they ... kill you."
Maher compared the "sheer brutality and depravity" of Arellano's murder to "something right out of the pages of 'Lord of the Flies,'" a classic novel about boys who turn into murderous "savages" when left to their own devices after a plane crash on an uninhabited island.
"So much for dignity in death," he said in reference to the decision to torch Arellano's body in an effort to destroy evidence.
"The carnage they inflicted is so base ... it's unimaginable what Alex endured," Boyle said in April, finding both defendants guilty of first-degree murder. "You believe that part of the city of Chicago somehow belongs to you. Nothing belongs to you, nothing."
Alisa Campos, 25, and Edgar Silva, 21, previously pleaded guilty in the murder. A fifth individual wanted in the case remains at large.