A jury on Thursday found a former Aurora man guilty of the 1998 double murder of Brendon P. Anderson, 21, of Geneva and 21-year-old Elias Calcano of Aurora.
The jury deliberated for about three hours before convicting Jaime M. Diaz, 35, formerly of the 1600 block of North Marywood Avenue, Aurora, of two counts of first-degree murder.
Around midnight March 16, 1998, Diaz went to the Aurora home of his girlfriend and found her and her sister in a car with Anderson and Calcano, according to a press release from the Kane County Sheriff's Department. The car belonged to Anderson. Diaz’s girlfriend previously had a relationship with Anderson and, she testified that she was friends with Calcano. Diaz knew Calcano and possibly knew Anderson, the press release stated.
Several hours later, Anderson, Calcano, Diaz and a fourth man were in Anderson’s car, parked in an alley off New York Street in Aurora. Diaz and the fourth man were in the backseat, Anderson was in the driver’s seat and Calcano was in the front passenger seat.
Diaz pulled out a semi-automatic handgun and shot Anderson and Calcano, once each in the back of the head, the press release stated. The fourth man immediately fled. Diaz then beat Calcano about the head and face with the butt of the gun, causing multiple broken bones and knocking out an entire tooth, according to the Kane County Sheriff's Office.
Diaz pulled the bodies from the car and left the scene on foot. Diaz returned a short time later, doused the bodies and the surrounding area with gasoline and set them on fire. Anderson’s body was badly burned. Authorities believe Anderson and Calcano died before Diaz set the fire, the press release stated.
No one was charged in the case for more than 10 years until evidence surfaced that pointed to Diaz as the killer. A beer bottle that was in Anderson’s car at the murder scene was found to contain Diaz’s DNA. The fourth man testified at the trial that Diaz was drinking a bottle of beer at the scene before the murders took place.
Diaz’s next court appearance will be Feb. 20, when a sentencing date will be set. Diaz faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison because he has been convicted of two murders.
Diaz has been held in the Kane County jail since his arrest.
The State's Attorney's Office originally sought the death penalty in the case. However, Illinois lawmakers repealed the death penalty in 2011.
“The law eventually catches up to killers," Kane County State’s Attorney Joe McMahon said in reacting to the verdict. "There usually is evidence and a witness who knows the facts. Sometimes it requires patience, but the truth eventually is revealed. I hope that the families of Brandon Anderson and Elias Calcano can find some measure of peace and justice now that their killer has been convicted and faces the maximum penalty that the laws of the state of Illinois allow."