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By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA
(© 2019 Journal GlobaLinks)

 

WAUKEGAN, Illinois (JGL) – A Lake County jury found Armando Trejo, a former nursing home employee, guilty of first-degree murders in the savage beating of his

Filipino American wife and her son from a prior marriage in a “sudden heat of passion” Monday (March 18) after he witnessed “horrific events” when he saw her twice holding the sex organ of her son.

The jury also found Trejo, the Beach Park, Illinois resident, to have committed a brutal and heinous crime that it recommended to send him to prison for the rest of his life when Lake County Judge James K. Booras hands down the sentence on May 20.

Trejo, 50, admitted to the jury to have used an aluminum bat in the brutal killing of his two-year long wife Lailani Uy Trejo, 43, and her biological son, Patrick K. Cruz, 14, in their home on Nov. 19, 2015 in Beach Park.

LAKE COUNTY JUDGE JAMES K. BOORAS (JGL Photo by JOSEPH G. LARIOSA)


In his opening statement, Trejo's lawyer, Michael Ettinger, said on the night of the murders, Trejo, Lailani and Patrick had a dinner together in their house and “and got some wine, listened to music and they all went to bed.

And approximately 2 a.m. in the morning, Lailani got up and went to the bathroom. Armando, who was also in bed, was awakened and saw the bathroom light was not on. So, he left the bedroom and looked for where Lailani was. He found her in Patrick's bedroom with her hand on his penis rubbing it.”

At this sight, Armando started yelling, “What are you doing? Get out of here. And Lani said, quoting Armando, “I'm not doing anything.”

They went back to bed and “Armando let it be.

An hour later, Lanie told Armando, “I want to go to the bathroom.” She got out and left and went to the bathroom. Again, Armando was wondering where she was and found Lanie “doing the same thing to Patrick, and he started saying, “What are you doing?”

Ettinger said, “He lost it. And said, “Get out of here. She went to the bedroom. And he grabbed the baseball bat. And he lost it. Suddenly, he had a sudden heat of passion and started hitting her. Then, he stopped and went into the bathroom gathered himself. He was in shock. He had a headache, couldn't believe what he saw. And came back into the bedroom. He stopped. Then Lanie goes upstairs.

OPENING  STATEMENT:

 

DEFENSE LAWYER Michael Ettinger makes a case on behalf of his client, Armando Trejo, Jr., during his opening statement last Monday, March 11, at the start of the jury trial of Trejo, who was convicted by a jury on Monday, March 18, before Lake County Court Judge James K. Booras in Waukegan, Illinoios. (JGL Photo by JOSEPH G. LARIOSA)


There is a phone and Thelma [Trejo's mother] was present also. And Armando started chasing her with a baseball bat.” 

SHRINE WITH CRUCIFIED JESUS 

Upstairs where the beating happened was a shrine room, which has huge statue of the crucified Jesus, which according to Ettinger is a testament that Armando did not intend to kill Lanie “in front of his mother, in front of his father in the shrine room. He intended to hurt her. He is reckless and [had] disregarded the consequences of his actions. Folks, that's a crime. But not murder.”

Ettinger and his co-defense lawyer Stephen Simonian said the circumstances of the deaths of the victims have elements of second-degree murders, which carry a sentence of four to 20 years in prison.

But the jury did not give credence to the defense by finding Trejo guilty of first-degree murders, which call for a natural life in prison without possibility of parole.

Assistant Lake County State's Attorneys Eric Kalata and Jason Humke said in closing arguments Monday that Trejo fulfilled a promise and killed his wife because she was leaving him after she discovered text messages to him from another woman.

ARMANDO TREJO, JR.


When Lailani confronted Trejo four days into the murders, Trejo beat her with a baseball bat to silence her inside the house, which his mother and father also share.

Kalata and Humke said when Lailani called 9-1-1 on the night of the attack, saying she “needs police” and “she was dying and she was bleeding,” dispatchers heard what appear to be sounds of the bat striking her.

The state prosecutors said Trejo took the phone after she made the call but he didn't initially hang up while repeatedly striking her with a bat. 

MOTHER “ACCIDENTALLY” HIT 

When Trejo's mother intervened, Trejo told the jury that he “accidentally” hit her on the arm with the bat.

When his stepson tried to stop Trejo, Trejo likewise repeatedly hit the boy with the bat until he died.

When police responded to an emergency call, Trejo sent them away, saying an imaginary two-year-old accidentally dialed the emergency number. He provided police a phony name.

After his mother came outside and spoke to an officer, police were allowed inside and discovered the grisly murders.

Ettinger and Simonian said they would appeal the verdict.

Trejo's $5-M bail that held him in Lake County jail was revoked after the verdict.

Lailani and Trejo first met while they were working together in a nursing home from 2011 to 2013 while she was still married.

Trejo assisted Lailani in getting divorce from her husband. They subsequently moved into an apartment, where they lived for a year up to 26 months.

While Lailani was working in a hospital five days a week, Armando took care of Patrick, taking him to and picking him up in school, until Trejo decided to get a house for Patrick, Lailani and himself.

Afterwards, Armando invited his mother, Thelma, and his Dad, Armando, to move in with them. But the mother agreed on one condition – that Lailani and Armando get married first, which they did. (Contact reporter: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

 

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