Cop says teen confessed to gang-related killing – sun times


January 10, 2008


BY KIM JANSSEN Staff writer


A teen with disabilities broke down in tears as he confessed 21/2 years ago to gunning down a gang rival after an Independence Day fireworks display, a jury heard Wednesday.


Carlos Nava, now 18, is on trial, accused of killing 14-year-old Bloom High School classmate Jeremy Johnson on July 3, 2005, because Johnson's baseball cap was tilted "the wrong way."


The day after the slaying, Nava gave conflicting accounts of the shooting before finally confessing, Chicago Heights police officer Joe Ignelzi testified Wednesday at the Cook County courthouse in Markham .


Nava, who stands just 4 feet 11 inches tall and weighs about 90 pounds, initially claimed that he was not at the murder scene near

Chicago Road
Dixie Highway
but heard gunshots and ran away, Ignelzi said.


He told jurors that Nava, who has a withered right hand, then changed his story - claiming that he had been present but that his buddy Miguel Quinenes had pulled the trigger after a gang fight with Johnson and Johnson's pals.


But confronted with evidence that he was the killer, Nava gave a tearful confession in an interview room, admitting to shooting Johnson, an alleged Gangster Disciple, and saying he had used a handgun that belonged to the "Latin King Nation," Ignelzi said.


"He said he was sorry," Ignelzi said, adding that Nava said the fight started because Johnson was wearing his hat to the right, while Latin Kings wear their hats to the left.


Assistant Public Defender Kendall Hill criticized police for failing to tape Nava's confession and for failing to take Nava's clothes into evidence when he turned himself in 13 hours after the killing.


But Quinenes, a former Latin King associate who testified for the prosecution Wednesday, said he had seen Nava with the gun seconds before the fatal shots were fired.


Johnson's friend Elwood Trice, a convicted crack dealer, identified Nava as the gunman while testifying Tuesday.



Teen convicted of gang-related killing


Chicago Heights Murder committed to gain respect from Latin Kings


January 12, 2008


BY KIM JANSSEN Staff writer


A teenager with disabilities who killed a Bloom High School classmate "because he wanted to be loved" faces up to 45 years behind bars after being convicted Friday of first-degree murder.


A jury at the Cook County Courthouse in Markham took four hours to find Carlos Nava, now 18, guilty of killing 14-year-old Jeramy Johnson after a July 3, 2005, fireworks display on the grounds of the Chicago Heights high school.


Prosecutors said Nava - who has a withered right hand, disabled left hand, weighs 90 pounds and stands just 4 feet 11 inches tall - shot Johnson because Johnson was wearing his hat "the wrong way," signifying his belonging to a rival street gang.


When Nava and a group of Latin Kings crossed paths with some Gangster Disciples as they left the fireworks show, a fight broke out.


By gunning down Johnson, Nava, who had few friends and was allegedly mocked as "lobster boy," hoped to win the love and respect of the Latin Kings, Assistant State 's Attorney James Pullos told jurors in his closing argument Friday.


"He desperately wanted to fit in, to be a part of something," Pullos said.


Assistant Public Defender Kendall Hill had tried to convince the jury that Nava's disability meant he could not have held the gun, let alone pulled the trigger - suggesting that police had fabricated a confession.


Hill made Nava show the jury how he had to use his forearms to pick up a heavy legal textbook.


But prosecutors said Nava did confess to shooting Johnson and later recanted. Assistant State 's Attorney Ted Lagerwall dismissed the book demonstration.


"Nobody threw a book at Jeramy Johnson - they fired a gun," he said.


Witnesses from both gangs had identified Nava as the gunman, he said.


As 25 relatives of Johnson celebrated outside the courtroom Friday evening, Johnson's mother, Patricia, said her son had tried to avoid the confrontation that night.


"I'm just glad that my son can rest in peace now, and that I can have peace, too," she said.


Nava showed no emotion as the verdict was announced.


He is due to be sentenced Feb. 6 by Circuit Judge Michelle Simmons.