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Palatine residents split over Luna's sentence
By Sara Faiwell | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 5/18/2007

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Just like the victims' families and just like the jurors who ultimately decided the fate of Juan Luna, people living in Palatine are divided when it comes to whether the man convicted of the Brown's Chicken murders should have received the death penalty.

Within an hour of the announcement that Luna would spend the rest of his life behind bars, people in the suburb were talking about it.

"He should have gotten the death penalty. I believe in an eye for an eye," said Raymond Laviste, who has lived in the town for almost four years. "When you take all of those lives, he should also die."

After two hours of deliberation, jurors announced Thursday that the 33-year-old Carpentersville man was sentenced to life in prison without parole for killing seven people at the Palatine restaurant in 1993. The vote was 11-1 in favor of death for Luna.

"As long as there's no parole, I am in favor of this," said Nick Cokkinias, a 17-year Palatine resident. "As long as he doesn't get out, that is fine."

The village's leader, who has been in office since 1989, said she agrees with Luna's sentence.

"I am satisfied that justice was done," said Mayor Rita Mullins. "I used to be a firm believer in the death penalty, but that was 15 years ago. Now I am older and more mature."

She added that since many of the victims' families didn't agree with a death sentence, she certainly had no right to advocate it.

"I think it's a step toward closure," she said. "We still have a whole other trial to go through, and it's not going to be any easier for the families to go through it again."

Mary Winch, a 10-year Palatine resident, said it's only fair to Luna's family that he remain alive.

"I think the family deserves that," she said.

For Gonzalo DeJesus, sentencing Luna to die wouldn't solve anything, he said.

"He will suffer in jail more than being dead," said DeJesus, who has lived in Palatine since 1984.

Mullins did not attend Luna's trial.

She said her decision was made early on and that it wasn't her place to be in court because the family needed to be there.

"It has not left my mind or my heart at any time," she said Thursday. "I will go to my grave with all of the emotions from this."