Christy Gutowski

A former Cicero man was sentenced Monday to life in prison without parole after he admitted committing a triple drug-related slaying in Willowbrook that a police officer witnessed.

Prosecutors agreed to drop a possible death sentence against Hector Leon Moya in exchange for his guilty plea for the murders.

Moya, 34, also provided federal, state and local authorities with information about other drug crimes and unsolved murders in the United States and Mexico during 25 hours of videotaped interviews.

On Sept. 14, 2004, Willowbrook Officer Chrisopher Drake leapt into action after he saw Moya open fire at three men inside an idling truck in a restaurant parking lot at Midway Drive and Route 83.

Drake chased Moya on foot after radioing for backup. Minutes later, Willowbrook Officer Robert Schaller tackled Moya with Drake still hot on his trail.

Prosecutor Paul Marchese said Moya had a loaded .45-caliber semi-automatic handgun tucked in his waistband and an empty magazine in his pocket. Moya did not attempt to shoot the officers.

“The gun still was hot to the touch,” Marchese said.

DuPage Circuit Judge Peter J. Dockery presided over Monday’s plea agreement. Marchese told the judge the crime also was captured on a nearby gas station’s surveillance camera.

The dead were identified as Guillermo Armendariz, 36; Hilario Ochoa-Ornelas, 25; and Federico Moreno Torres, 36. The trio was from Mexico, but Armendariz and Ochoa-Ornelas most recently were living in Texas.

The murders occurred in a bustling commercial area near Route 83 and I-55, suggesting the men were passing through DuPage County.

Moya, a father of three, previously had been deported back to his native Mexico but later returned to the United States.

Initially, Moya said he acted in self-defense and did it to protect his family. He declined Monday to make a statement in court. His attorney, David Camic, said it was the best outcome, given the circumstances.

“We are grateful (prosecutors) gave my client the opportunity to tell his story and to put it all into context so that he could avoid the ultimate punishment of death,” Camic said.