Code of silence may add 10 years to man’s prison term

Art Barnum (Chicago Tribune) | February 24, 2011

A Joliet man who abided by his street gang’s code of silence and refused to testify against an associate during a murder trial faces a sentence of up to 10 years in prison for contempt of court.

Robert Meza, 23, refused to testify against Antonio Aguilar, 21, of Addison, who was on trial recently in DuPage County for the 2007 murder in Addison of an innocent bystander, who prosecutors said was mistaken for a rival gang member.

Aguilar was acquitted by Judge George Bakalis, who said prosecutors lacked sufficient evidence for a conviction. Bakalis said Meza’s refusal to testify was a factor in the trial’s outcome.

Meza, 23, who already is serving 45 years for the same murder, pleaded guilty Thursday to serious direct criminal contempt.

Judge Kathryn Creswell told Meza that state law does not specify any maximum sentence for the contempt “other than reasonable.” But she said she will abide by the plea agreement of no more than 10 years in prison that Meza struck with prosecutors when she issues the sentence March 30.

Read more at: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/ct-met-gang-contempt-0225-20110224,0,5511782.story

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