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Sentencing delayed in murder of East Aurora 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: September 13, 2012 8:13PM

YORKVILLE — An Aurora man will have to wait until Halloween to find out how long he’ll be in prison for the 2009 murder of an East Aurora soccer star.

Thursday afternoon, Kendall County Judge John Barsanti denied a defense motion to overturn the murder conviction against 23-year-old Francisco Salazar.

In May, Salazar was found guilty of the murder of 17-year-old Jason Ventura and the attempted murder of his friend in a shooting in Oswego on Dec. 20, 2009.

It was the second time Salazar had faced charges in the murder. In February, a jury deliberated for two days but could not reach a decision on the same charges. Barsanti declared a hung jury at that time.

Prosecutors said Salazar drove four men to a party in Oswego. While Salazar’s group was leaving, one of the men flashed gang signs. Someone in Ventura’s car 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 his passenger, who survived, was hit twice.

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

At post-trial motions presented Thursday, defense attorney Liam Dixon argued that Salazar did not know Reyes was going to shoot anyone, so the jury erred when they ruled he was part of a murder plot.

The jury found Salazar guilty of the murder, but decided he did not fire the weapon.

Salazar faces a minimum 20-year sentence on the murder charges. Prosecutors will argue that any sentences for the attempted murder should be served consecutively with the murder sentence, making Salazar eligible for at least 32 years in prison.

He was scheduled to be sentenced Thursday, but prosecutors asked for the decision to be delayed. A new sentencing date was set for Oct. 31.

Ventura was a junior at East Aurora High School who played on the school’s varsity soccer team. His mother has said that Ventura was planning to attend college, then go into coaching or law enforcement one day.

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