Man fired single shot that wounded girlfriend, killed her stepdad after night of drinking and drugs: prosecutors

Prosecutors said Jorge Espana drank alcohol, ingested cannabis and took psychedelic mushrooms before the shooting in Back of the Yards.

SHARE Man fired single shot that wounded girlfriend, killed her stepdad after night of drinking and drugs: prosecutors
The Leighton Criminal Courthouse at 26th Street and South California.

The Leighton Criminal Courthouse at 26th Street and South California Avenue.

Sun-Times file

With a single gunshot, a man wounded the mother of his young child and killed her stepfather as he sought revenge against someone else during a party fueled by drugs and alcohol at his home in the Back of the Yards, prosecutors said Tuesday.

Jorge Espana, 28, was charged with murder and aggravated battery in the shooting, which occurred around 3:30 a.m. Sunday in the 5400 block of South Winchester, according to Chicago police and Cook County court records.

During a court hearing Tuesday, Assistant State’s Attorney Daniel Hanichak said Espana was drinking with his sister, his girlfriend and his girlfriend’s brother when he ingested a “mushroom pill” and part of a cannabis-infused chocolate bar.

Espana’s girlfriend, who lived in the attic with him and their young son, eventually went to bed, leaving the others to drink and smoke marijuana outside, Hanichak said. A fight broke out between Espana and his girlfriend’s brother, who had indicated he was going to bed.

Espana’s girlfriend, her mother and her stepfather — 37-year-old Huberto Rosales — eventually joined them in the backyard as the two men stood “chest to chest,” Hanichak said. After wrestling and being separated, Espana told the group “he was going inside to get his gun to shoot” his girlfriend’s brother.

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His girlfriend and his sister followed him as he retrieved the gun from the attic and tried to stop him from going back outside, Hanichak said. They locked a door to block him from going downstairs, but Espana heard a noise on the other side and fired a shot.

The bullet grazed his girlfriend in the armpit, traveled through the door and struck Rosales in the head, Hanichak said. Rosales, who was celebrating his birthday that day, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Espana’s girlfriend was treated at a hospital, Hanichak said. Her brother was hiding in a closet when the gunshot rang out.

Espana and his sister took off after the shooting, Hanichak said. He apparently called and texted his girlfriend from his sister’s phone, saying he loved her and their child as he sought to pick up his belongings.

He was arrested later that day, according to Hanichak, who urged Judge Charles Beach to order him held without bail. Espana pleaded guilty in January 2020 to a felony count of obstruction of justice and was sentenced to two years of “second-chance probation,” court records show.

Raymond Bendig, Espana’s attorney, contended the shooting was an “accident” and said his client suffered a broken jaw during the confrontation and requires surgery.

“He’s the one with serious injuries. … He was not the aggressor and his injuries bear that out,” Bendig said.

He pushed for Espana to be released on electronic monitoring, noting that his client “does not want to rely” on the Cook County Department of Corrections medical care.

Espana is a lifelong Chicago resident and high school graduate who now works at Jersey Mike’s Subs, Bendig said. He characterized Espana as a churchgoer, “animal lover” and “helpful” member of the community as he pushed back on “the state’s version of events” that Espana was the only person who took mushrooms and cannabis edibles.

Judge Beach said he gave Bendig’s arguments “great weight,” but insisted they don’t factor into whether the proof is evidence and the presumption is great that Espana fired the fatal shot.

“I do believe he did,” Beach said. “I don’t believe there’s any question in the fact that he did.”

Espana was denied bail. His next court date was set for Aug. 15.

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