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State wants gang evidence allowed in cold case murder

Arnoldo Aguilar

Arnoldo Aguilar

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Updated: March 18, 2013 6:49AM

ST. CHARLES — The shooting death of Brian Lambert on Aurora’s near East Side more than a decade ago happened as an attempt by two Aurora men to earn gang membership, according to Kane County prosecutors.

Prosecutors want to offer that information in the upcoming trial of Arnoldo Aguilar, who is scheduled to be tried for murder beginning Feb. 25.

Lambert was shot to death while sitting in a car on North Anderson Street in Aurora in May 2001. No charges were filed until 2007 when Aguilar and co-defendant Julian Acosta were picked up as part of the massive Operation First-Degree Burn sweep that netted dozens of arrests in several unsolved Aurora murders.

Aguilar has pleaded not guilty and is scheduled for a final pretrial hearing on Thursday. Acosta returns to court Feb. 28.

Assistant State’s Attorney Greg Sams filed a motion this week seeking to introduce evidence, first presented to a grand jury in 2007, that Aguilar and Acosta were on a “30-day base trial trying to become (Latin) Kings.” Sams also notes a prosecution witness will testify the two men had to shoot a rival gang member in order to secure membership, the motion states, adding that Lambert either associated with or was a member of another gang at the time of the shooting.

Aguilar’s attorney, Kathleen Colton, had not yet responded to the gang evidence motion, but she did recently file her own request to bar prosecutors from mentioning at trial Aguilar’s conviction for aggravated discharge of a firearm in a 2002 case. Colton’s concern is that jurors will not consider the information to judge Aguilar’s credibility, and instead will be tempted to “conclude that if he has been convicted of a crime, he is more likely than not, guilty of the current charges,” her motion states.

Colton goes on to state Aguilar’s testimony at trial will be necessary to explain “his version of the facts,” but that he would not be able to testify if prosecutors are able to mention the 2002 case, for which he received probation.

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