Joliet Man Gets 45 Years for Helping Friend Kill Romantic Rival

Jesus Zambrano, who fled Joliet after the 2009 shooting and was arrested near Mexico, was convicted of first-degree murder in August.

Jesus Zambrano. Credit: Will County Sheriff's Office
Jesus Zambrano. Credit: Will County Sheriff's Office
A Joliet man who accompanied his friend when he confronted and killed a romantic rival while the victim's two young children slept nearby was sentenced to 45 years in prison Wednesday.

Jesus E. Zambrano, 23, of 1025 N. Raynor Ave., was sentenced by Will County Judge Amy Bertani-Tomczak after a jury convicted him in August of the first-degree murder of Robert Gooch, 36, who was shot to death in May 22, 2009 in the Lois Place apartment complex.

Pedro Sanchez, 35, of Joliet, is serving a 61-year prison term for Gooch's death.

Zambrano and Sanchez went to the apartment of Gooch’s girlfriend, Ellissa Hinton, who was also having an occasional sexual relationship with Sanchez, in order to confront Gooch, according to trial testimony.

Hinton testified she and Gooch were in bed when they heard the apartment’s buzzer. Gooch went to answer the door, and Hinton said she could hear Sanchez's voice in the living room and the words "my girl" just before the gun was fired.

Hinton found Gooch on the floor with a gunshot wound to the back of the head, according to her testimony. Gooch's two young children asleep in a sofa bed in the same room.

Zambrano fled Joliet after the shooting and was arrested less than a week later in Texas near the Mexican border, according to a Chicago Tribune story.

A key part of the prosecution, according to a news release from the Will County state's attorney's office, were apartment complex security tapes that showed Zambrano and Sanchez arriving in Sanchez's car, going toward the building and then running back to the car.

A witness testified that he saw Zambrano "retrieve an object from under the hood of the car before the two entered the apartment complex," the release said.

“These two thugs committed an act of despicable brutality by gunning down an unarmed man while his two children were asleep in the same room,” State’s Attorney James Glasgow said in the release.

“Jesus Zambrano has been taken off our streets thanks to a first-rate investigation by the Joliet Police Department and top-notch trial work by prosecutors DanWalsh and Tricia McKenna.”


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