KANE JUDGE THROWS OUT CONFESSION HOMICIDE

Marie-Anne Hogarth

St. Charles

On the grounds that police violated an Aurora teenager's rights, Kane County Judge Philip DiMarzio has thrown out his confession to a 1999 gang-related shooting at a North Aurora motel.

North Aurora police Sgt. Larry Lapp, now a special agent with the FBI, testified that, when he interviewed then 17-year-old Patrick Inocencio, the teen confessed to a role in the February 1999 shooting of Auroran Eric Johnson at the Howard Johnson Hotel at South Lincolnway and Interstate 88.

"At that point, he held his head down and said that he just entered the room and started shooting," Lapp states in court documents, regarding his interview of Inocencio at the North Aurora police station. Inocencio, of the 1700 block of Spring Street, Aurora, is charged with four counts of first-degree murder, three counts of attempted murder, three counts of aggravated battery with a firearm, three counts of armed violence and two counts of home invasion. Facing the same charges in the shooting are co-defendants Melissa Sandoval, then 17, of the 00 block of Volks Court, North Aurora, and Jesse B. Martinez, 19, of Aurora.

The three burst into the motel room and opened fire on four people, killing 18-year-old Johnson, police said.

Inocencio's attorneys, David Camic and Sandra Parga, said two Aurora police officers stopped interviewing Incocencio after he requested a lawyer. But Lapp continued the interview at the North Aurora police station, court documents stated.

Furthermore, Lapp did not allow Inocencio time alone with his mother prior to the interview, saying that the station was too small to allow such a meeting. The officer let the two talk together after he had taken Inocencio's statements.

"We consider being able to suppress the confession of a murder defendant a significant victory," Camic said.

The statement, along with a taped statement, may be used against Inocencio only if he testified in his own trial. Even then, the statement could only be used by prosecutors to dispute contradictory statements.

Inocencio's statements may be used, too, in the trials of Martinez and Sandoval.

Earlier this year, Judge James Doyle ruled North Aurora police had no legal right to grab a black jacket from Sandoval's closet, because officers took it without a search warrant.