Teen sentenced to 90 years
Thursday, June 21, 2007 12:46 AM CDT


CROWN POINT | A judge who earlier gave an East Chicago
teen a break, now has sentenced him to 90 years in
prison.

Steven Quinones, 19, didn't show up for his trial or
sentencing, but that didn't stop a jury from
convicting him in May of murder, attempted murder and
criminal recklessness.

During the trial, Quinones sent Lake Criminal Court
Judge Salvador Vasquez a letter saying he felt he was
being railroaded and would not be in court, Vasquez
said before announcing the sentence. Quinones is not
in custody.

Jurors heard that Quinones fired into a group of seven
teens on Feb. 22, 2006, killing Hayward Jackson Jr.,
17.

Deputy Prosecutor Christy Short said Quinones gave a
statement to police after the shooting acknowledging
his connection to the Imperial Gangsters street gang.

In a previous case in December 2003, Quinones took a
handgun to Block Junior High School and pleaded guilty
to a weapons violation. In that case, Vasquez
sentenced Quinones to a day reporting program, the
terms of which Quinones violated. He completed his
sentence in the work-release program, where by all
accounts Quinones did well.

In November 2005, Quinones appeared before Vasquez
asking the judge to turn his felony conviction in the
2003 case into a misdemeanor.

After a lecture to Quinones about staying out of
trouble, Vasquez granted the request.

"He made a pitch to me to give him a misdemeanor,"
Vasquez said during Wednesday's sentencing hearing. "I
believed it was a proper decision at that time.
Hindsight dictates otherwise. He is a gang member who
liked to handle guns."