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Auroran gets 55 years in murder of soccer player

Francisco Salazar is charged 2009 murder East AurorHigh School student JasVentura.

Francisco Salazar is charged in the 2009 murder of East Aurora High School student Jason Ventura.

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Updated: December 19, 2012 11:29AM

YORKVILLE — Needless. Pointless. Ridiculous.

Those were the words 16th Circuit Court Judge John Barsanti used Wednesday as he sentenced Francisco Salazar of Aurora to 55 years in prison for his part in the 2009 murder of 17-year-old East Aurora High School soccer player Jason Ventura.

“There’s tragedy from every perspective here,” Barsanti said in passing sentence in Kendall County Court. “Everybody gets affected by this. And there appears to be little or no motive for this shooting. It’s almost completely incomprehensible to the point of being silly.

“Everybody goes to prison here. The family of Francisco Salazar goes to prison for the time he is there; the family of Jason Ventura goes to prison maybe forever.”

On Dec. 20, 2009, Salazar, now 23, drove four men to a party in Oswego. While his group was leaving, one of the men with him flashed gang signs.

Someone in Ventura’s car apparently responded by flashing rival gang symbols.

Salazar turned his vehicle around and drove toward Ventura’s car at Douglas and Long Beach roads. Zachary Reyes got out of Salazar’s car and fired 11 shots into Ventura’s car. Ventura was hit five times and one of his passengers, who survived, was hit twice.

Reyes already has been sentenced to 92 years in prison for firing the fatal shots.

Defense attorney Liam Dixon of Aurora argued Wednesday that Salazar had “minimal involvement” in the crime.

“He didn’t even know there was a gun,” Dixon said. “Mr. Reyes, he did that on his own.”

But Kendall County State’s Attorney Eric Weis said Salazar was just as guilty as the person who pulled the trigger.

“If he doesn’t drive the car, make the turns he did, stop when he did, this does not happen,” Weis said.

Barsanti agreed with prosecutors that Salazar’s prior criminal activity — which included committing a crime while out on bond for another crime — was an aggravating factor in the murder.

Barsanti sentenced Salazar to 30 years in prison for murder, which must be served at 100 percent. He sentenced him to another 25 years on attempted murder charges, for which Salazar must serve at least 85 percent.

Ventura’s friend who was injured in the shooting, his younger brother Alex, and his mother and father, Lorena and Juan Ventura, all made statements read into the record by prosecutors.

Lorena Ventura said since the death of her son, “each day has been a nightmare.”

“The family has forever changed,” she said. “Part of us died when Jason was taken from us.”

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