COOK COUNTY CRIMINAL COURTHOUSE — A lottery ticket bought by Timothy Fountain the night of a double murder on the South Side turned out to be his unlucky number.
Fountain, sentenced to life in prison Friday, was linked to the 2005 slaying of a Brighton Park convenience store clerk and customer by a lottery ticket discovered by police at Maggy's Convenience Store.
Graciela Rodriguez, 37, was working as a clerk at the convenience store at 4458 S. California Ave., and 74-year-old customer Nicholas Guerrero was shopping when Fountain walked in on Aug. 4, 2005, and asked to buy a lottery ticket, prosecutors said.
Before Rodriguez had time to give him the lottery ticket, Fountain pulled a gun and grabbed the money in the register, prosecutors said. He ordered Rodriguez to the rear of the building and shot her in the head.
As he was escaping, Fountain ran into Guerrero and shot him, too.
DNA recovered from under Guerrero's fingernail clinched Fountain's conviction in November. But police might never have identified Fountain as a suspect if not for the lottery ticket .
Police ran a search in an arrest database using the numbers on the ticket and discovered they matched a street address for Fountain.
Cook County Judge Charles Burns sentenced Fountain to life in prison for the murders, "plus 30 years" for the armed robbery.
"The only place for you to be is prison," he said, tacking three decades onto the life sentence as a message to any parole board that might consider an early release. "You should never, ever, ever be released Mr. Fountain. Never."
But for Guerrero's granddaughter, who spoke in court on behalf of his family Friday, knowing Fountain will die in jail isn't enough.
"You not only killed Nicolas Guerrero, but you also killed a little part of all of us," Veronica Bedolla said during the court hearing. "You broke our family up."
The 33-year-old woman spoke confidently through her tears, bolstered slightly by a blouse printed with skulls she selected especially for the sentencing.
"I wish this would have happened before the death penalty was abolished," said Bedolla, 33. "He's an animal."
Fountain opted not to make a statement at the sentencing.