Man gets 18 years for gang-related arson that killed 12-year-old boy

SHARE Man gets 18 years for gang-related arson that killed 12-year-old boy
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submitted 5-11-2009 Manuel Flores Three men were arrested and charged for their involvement in the arson fire which occurred on May 9, 2009, at 272 North Prospect Avenue in Mundelein that resulted in the death of 12-year-old Jorge Juarez. Three other residents were seriously injured Ð two are still hospitalized and one was released. The three offenders were involved in a dispute as a result of gang activity involving a member of the Juarez family. A gang meeting was held on May 8, 2009, at which the Hernandez brothers were ordered to target 272 North Prospect Avenue. The Hernandez brothers broke out the windows on a car owned by the Juarez family which was parked in the driveway and all the windows in the house. They then threw a Molotov cocktail into the house and started the fire. Manuel Flores A. 2-18-84, 24536 W. Brorson Ave., Round Lake is charged with one count of first degree Murder. Elver H. Hernandez 5-7-89, 842 Lange Street, Mundelein and Edwin J. Hernandez 12-8-91, 842 Lange Street, Mundelein each were charged with one count of first-degree murder. Additional charges will be presented to the Lake County Grand Jury. All three men will be appearing today at 2 p.m. at the Lake County Courthouse for a bond hearing.

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.

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