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Judge will allow confession in Garcia trial for Zion shooting

A defense motion to suppress the videotaped confession of Mundelein resident Jose Garcia, charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of 19-year-old Gabriel Gonzalez of Zion, was denied by a Lake County Judge Thursday.

Defense attorney James Schwarzbach had claimed in the motion that investigators of the Lake County Major Crime Task Force had used coercive and unconstitutional methods in interrogating Garcia, 19, after he was taken into custody following the March 10 shooting.

Judge Daniel Shanes denied that motion, as well as a motion to suppress evidence, including clothing and cell phones, that were acquired after police escorted Garcia from his parents’ apartment in Mundelein to the interrogation at the Round Lake Beach Police Department.

In a third ruling, Shanes said that if prosecutors use surveillance camera video of the shooting at Garcia’s trial, the defense will be allowed to bring in expert testimony to support Scwarzbach’s contention that the video was not copied in a manner that allowed it to be enhanced for viewing as well as it could have been.

Schwarzbach had argued that during the interrogation, police used “clear, coercive police tactics” that “crossed the line constitutionally,” including indications that if Garcia did not confess to the shooting, police may not be able to protect his family from potential gang retaliation if the murder was perceived as gang-related.

Shanes said that such police claims were not out of the realm of possibility given the circumstances of the shooting. As to the evidence collected by police, Shanes said it was taken from Garcia after he was properly placed under arrest at the police station.

Shanes also said that police clearly informed Garcia of his Miranda rights and that the confession was not given because his will had been “overborne” by police.

Prosecutors have said Garcia was the shooter in the murder of Gonzalez, during an incident in the parking lot of a Round Lake Beach convenience store. The shooting was recorded by the store’s surveillance camera.

Jose Rebollar-Vergara, 24, of Round Lake Park, a second defendant charged with murder in the case, allegedly began an altercation with Gonzalez inside the store, and the dispute continued out into the parking lot, culminating in the shooting.

Police have said both Garcia and Rebollar-Vergara were members of the Latin Kings street gang. Both have remained in Lake County Jail custody since their arrest.

Garcia’s trial is scheduled to begin Feb. 3.

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