A reputed gang leader whose “smash on sight” order prompted a 2009 firebombing that killed a 12-year-old Mundelein boy and severely injured two of his relatives was sentenced Monday to 18 years in prison.
Manuel Flores was ordered to prison after pleading guilty to aggravated arson in a plea deal that saw Lake County prosecutors drop first-degree murder charges against the 27-year-old Round Lake man.
Flores told two associates to attack an 18-year-old man whose family had recently moved from Grayslake to Mundelein in an effort to avoid gang harassment, prosecutors said during Flores’ sentencing hearing.
That so-called “smash on sight” order caused 20-year-old gang member Elver Hernandez to recruit his 17-year-old brother, Edwin, and then both attacked Raphael Juarez’s Mundelein home with a Molotov cocktail early on May 9, 2009, prosecutors said.
Juarez wasn’t home, but the firebomb set the house ablaze, trapping and killing his younger brother, Jorge Juarez. Juarez’s mother, 44-year-old Virginia Estrada, was left partly paralyzed when she jumped from the second floor to escape the flames, while his 14-year-old sister was badly burned in the attack.
Judge Daniel Shanes called the attack “a tragic thing” that Flores set in motion when he directed the elder Hernandez to go after Juarez.
“You didn’t tell him to set fire to the house and you didn’t tell him to kill anybody, but based on your conversation, that’s what he did,” Shanes told Flores. “Because of that conversation, you’re going to be spending a long time in prison.”
Both Hernandez brothers were convicted of first-degree murder after rejecting plea deals from prosecutors that called for them to testify against Flores, officials said.
Elver Hernandez was sentenced to 84 years in prison, while his brother, Edwin, was sentenced to 80 years.
Flores, who has been jailed since shortly after the firebombing, is expected to spend about 13 years behind bars.