A jury on Thursday found a Waukegan man not guilty of first-degree murder for shooting and killing a 30-year-old man at a Halloween party near Grayslake in 2017.
Jasperin F. Melendez, 23, of the 1100 block of West Grove Avenue in Waukegan, was charged with three counts of first-degree murder.
The Lake County Sheriff’s Office said at the time that the charges stemmed from a shooting in the 33300 block of Lone Rock Road in unincorporated Grayslake on October 21, 2017.
Fabian J. Cortez-Milan, 30, of Zion, was shot and critically injured in the shooting, police said.
Cortez-Milan was transported to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead.
An arrest warrant was issued for Melendez and he was arrested the day of the shooting in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, by Lake County Sheriff’s Office detectives and Lake County Major Crime Task Force investigators.
During a trial that concluded on Thursday, prosecutors said that Cortez-Milan went to a party at a residence to confront Melendez, who was 19 at the time.
The two, who had known each other for years, had been in a feud in the weeks leading up to the shooting, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Melendez’s attorney, Lawrence L. Wade, told jurors that Cortez-Milan reached for his waistband when Melendez shot him.
Prosecutors argued that people could be heard on video, which was played at trial, telling Melendez to put his gun down because Cortez-Milan was not armed, the Tribune reported.
The jury on Thursday found Melendez not guilty of all three counts of first-degree murder and the man was released from custody, court records show.
Steven Spagnolo, a spokesperson for the Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office, said in a statement to Lake and McHenry County Scanner that his office respects the jury’s verdict but disagrees that the case was self-defense.
“There has been a long standing feud between the families in this case. Fabian went to a party to confront the defendant, who was armed. The defendant shot and killed Fabian as Fabian was yelling at him,” Spagnolo said.
“This terrible tragedy started in 2017 and this office has stood with Fabian’s family since that time. We must think strategically and act urgently to end gun violence,” he added.