A 35-year-old Aurora man is expected to spend the rest of his life in prison after being convicted in a 1998 double murder, a case that went unsolved for a decade, officials said.
Jaime M. Diaz, formerly of the 1600 block of North Marywood Avenue, Aurora, was convicted Jan. 31 by a Kane County jury of two counts of first-degree murder. The Kane County State's Attorney's Office sent out information on the conviction on Friday.
The jury deliberated for about three hours before returning with its verdict.
At about midnight on March 16, 1998, Diaz went to the Aurora home of his girlfriend and found her and her sister in a car with Brendon P. Anderson, 21, of Geneva and Elias Calcano, 21, of Aurora. 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.
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 back seat, 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 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 a tooth, according to the State's Attorney'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. Authorities think that Anderson and Calcano died before Diaz set the fire.
The case was uncharged for more than 10 years until credible 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.
Circuit Judge Karen Simpson set Diaz’s next court appearance for 1:30 p.m. Feb. 20 in Courtroom 311 for motions and to set a sentencing date. Diaz faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison because he was convicted of two murders.
Diaz has been held in the Kane County jail since his arrest.
When the case was charged in 2008, the state declared its intent to seek a sentence of death. However, Illinois lawmakers repealed the death penalty in 2011.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 a prepared statement. "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 Brendon 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.
“My thanks to Investigator Greg Spayth of the Aurora Police Department for his hard work and perseverance in this case, and to Kane County Assistant State’s Attorneys Greg Sams and Deborah Lang, who prosecuted this case.”