Murder suspect not shy about sharing details
By Dan Campana For The Beacon-News January 28, 2013 9:54PM
Mug of Michael J. Reyes, aka Lefty, born 11/16/72.
Updated: March 2, 2013 6:26AM
ST. CHARLES — From the day he shot and killed two brothers in 1993, prosecutors say Michael Reyes didn’t hesitate to tell people what he had done.
He told a fellow member of the Latin Kings street gang and another person shortly after it happened in March 1993. He told a co-worker over lunch the day after Juan and Francisco Montoya were found shot to death inside their family’s van. He told his girlfriend. He even shared it with cellmates in 2007 and 2008 after his arrest as part of the massive Operation First Degree Burn.
Assistant State’s Attorney Jody Gleason told jurors Monday that Reyes repeatedly shared the story of the killings and, at times, how he wanted his one-time codefendant to take the fall. In her opening statement, Gleason said testimony and physical evidence will prove him guilty of murder.
Reyes, 40, is charged with multiple counts of murder. Gleason said the Montoya brothers were each shot in the head, at least one of them at close range, with a .45 caliber handgun. Francisco Montoya, 18, also had an apparent defensive wound to one hand, as if he tried to shield himself, Gleason explained.
Reyes’ defense team from the Kane County Public Defender’s Office countered that Reyes and the Montoya brothers were “close friends.” Assistant Public Defender Julia Yetter characterized the state’s case as filled with “lots of gossip,” “false accusations” and “a whole lot of Latin Kings trying to take care of themselves.”
Yetter said police initially interviewed and investigated Reyes in 1993, but did not charge him. The case, according to Yetter, centers on the Montoya family’s drug dealing. She said the parents knew Francisco and Juan were going to do a deal with Reyes the night they disappeared and told police they believed Reyes was involved.
“The evidence will show … Michael Reyes did not kill his two close friends,” Yetter said.
Gleason painted a differing version of events, saying Reyes had arranged the deal where the Montoyas would sell a quarter kilogram of cocaine. Francisco and Juan waited for a page from Reyes and then for their parents to go to sleep so they could take the family’s van to complete the transaction. A younger brother sneaked out of a bedroom with his older siblings, but was left behind when he went back to get a coat.
“He never saw them alive again,” Gleason said of the younger brother.
When the boys didn’t return home by the next morning, the parents became concerned and searched around Aurora with no results. An upstairs neighbor later spotted the van parked near Union and Spencer.
“When the police arrive, they find both the boys inside dead,” Gleason explained.
The state’s first witness, Jose Oliva, testified Reyes asked for a gun around the time of the murders. Oliva loaned Reyes a small .45-caliber, but when Oliva later asked for it to be returned, Reyes said “he got rid of it,” Oliva testified.
On cross-examination, Oliva faced a steady string of defense questions about the connection between his deal with federal prosecutors and his testimony. Oliva served federal time for a drug conspiracy conviction and remains on probation, he said. While the defense suggested Oliva gave investigators different stories at different times before his deal, Oliva acknowledged he was motivated to cooperate to help himself.
Testimony continues Tuesday.