A 79-year-old man has pleaded not guilty after prosecutors say he fatally shot his neighbor during an argument over the neighbor’s use of a leaf blower near Antioch.
The Lake County Sheriff’s Office and Antioch Fire Department responded around 7:35 p.m. on April 12 to the 40700 block of North Black Oak Avenue in unincorporated Antioch.
Paramedics were already on the scene performing lifesaving measures before sheriff’s deputies arrived, Lake County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Chief Christopher Covelli said.
The initial 911 call reported that a man was unresponsive on the driveway.
The victim was later identified as William Martys, 59, who lived at the residence.
Martys was transported to Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville where he was pronounced dead, Covelli said.
Covelli said a further investigation revealed Martys sustained a gunshot wound to the head.
Detectives conducted a comprehensive investigation into the murder, Covelli said in an update late last month.
Sheriff’s detectives determined Martys’ next-door neighbor, Ettore Lacchei, 79, had “various perceived grievances” with Martys, Covelli said.
Martys was using a leaf blower in his yard when he was approached by Lacchei.
Lacchei argued with Martys and Lacchei shot Martys in the head during the argument, Covelli said.
Lake County Assistant State’s Attorney Jeffrey Facklam, who is the Chief Deputy of Criminal Division, said the murder was without “justification or provocation” and appeared to stem from an argument over the use of the leaf blower.
Lacchei told investigators he had not left his house on the day of the murder and had never interacted with Martys.
Witnesses reported seeing Lacchei and Martys involved in an argument at the time the murder occurred, Facklam said.
Witnesses also told investigators that Lacchei was known to carry the firearm while walking up and down the street.
Investigators recovered a single .25 caliber casing at the scene.
Sheriff’s detectives found a gun case in Lacchei’s home during a search warrant and then recovered the .25 caliber firearm believed to have been used in the murder near his property line.
A box of .25 caliber ammunition was also found in Lacchei’s yard, Facklam said.
Lacchei was arrested without incident at his home following the search warrant.
The Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office reviewed the case and approved two counts of first-degree murder.
Facklam said during a bond hearing that Lacchei has hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash in his possession and asked the court to deny Lacchei bond.
Lacchei planned on closing on the sale of his home soon and then moving to Italy, Facklam said, adding that the man has an Italian passport and a United States passport.
Attorney Gregory Nikitas, who is representing Lacchei, said his client has no criminal history and asked the court to impose a cash bond.
Nikitas said he does not believe the community is in danger by Lacchei being released on a cash bond.
Lake County Judge Theodore Potkonjak granted prosecutors’ petition for denial of bail after finding Lacchei to be a potential flight risk.
“Our condolences go out to the family and friends of William Martys, who was senselessly murdered. The members of the sheriff’s office are relentless when it comes to seeking justice for victims,” Lake County Sheriff John Idleburg said.
“The members of our Criminal Investigations Division have been working around the clock to bring Mr. Martys’ murderer to justice, and I am happy Mr. Martys’ family can begin the closure and healing process,” Idleburg said.
A grand jury on May 17 returned an indictment charging Lacchei with three counts of first-degree murder.
Lacchei pleaded not guilty during an arraignment hearing Tuesday.
Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart said he is proud of the work of the sheriff’s office along with First Assistant State’s Attorney Lauren Callinan and Chief of Criminal Jeffrey Facklam, who worked closely with detectives on the investigation.
“Once again, easy access to firearms has turned a dispute into a deadly crime. We will support the victims and seek justice in the court rooms,” Rinehart said.
The Lake County Sheriff’s Office was assisted by the Antioch Police Department and Lake County Major Crime Task Force in the investigation.
Lacchei is scheduled to appear in court again on June 20 for a case management conference.