By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
"It wasn't supposed to be like this," Jameton said. "It was supposed to be an easy lick. Things went wrong, he's a stupid kid. Thinks he knows it all. He put the hands up front and he suffered the consequences." After killing Oscar, Acevedo said he and the uncle loaded the body into the truck in the garage and forced Felix to drive to the dumping location. Acevedo wanted to kill Felix, Jameton said, but the uncle intervened. "They already killed the damn nephew," Jameton said. "He says, 'We're not killing anyone else.'"
At this point in the testimony, Felix began to wheeze and breathe heavily. He was having an asthma attack. As he leaned over and sucked on an inhaler, behind him his sister tightened her arm around the shoulders of their graying father. Jameton continued. He had agreed to kill Felix for $12,500 but was soon transferred to a different facility, he said. He told Acevedo to pass word through his associates, but instead, Acevedo wrote him a note, which mentioned the names of several of Jameton's Aryan Brotherhood cohorts and could have caused the admitted killer additional legal problems. According to Jameton, Acevedo gave the note to another inmate to pass to him, but somehow it wound up in the hands of his supposed target: Felix. Acevedo "put me in a fucked-up situation," Jameton said, explaining why he'd agreed to testify. "I don't give a shit about these people, man. He did exactly what I told him not to do. Eye for an eye is my fucking motto."
To prosecutors, putting Jameton on the stand was merely a cheap way to make Felix look mild and innocent in comparison with a "real" killer. For the Sanchez family, Jameton's bizarre tale was the low point of the trial. "Having to endure all those lies," Laura would say later, was the hardest part. The family was directed by prosecutors not to respond to the allegations because it could affect the trial. "The most difficult thing was the fear," Laura would say, "the fear that they succeeded in putting a seed of doubt into the minds of those 12 wonderful people."
During their rebuttal the next day, prosecutors called Theresa Sanchez to the stand. Her long blond hair spilling over her shoulders and still wearing her wedding ring, she told of the close relationship she had with her late husband. "We'd talk three, four times a day," she said. "We were very close." She said it would have been impossible for him to have had a double life. "If he wasn't with me, he was with his mom or shooting golf...I keep praying the truth will come out and I don't have to worry about this anymore." Theresa provided an alibi for the relative singled out in Jameton's testimony: Oscar's uncle, she said, was at the intersection of Winnetka and Canty with the rest of the family following the kidnapping. And when she and Laura returned from the police station late that night, he was camped out at Laura's house with everyone else.
The jury didn't buy Jameton's testimony or any other part of the defense. On September 11, they delivered a guilty verdict for capital murder, automatically sentencing Felix to life in prison. After the verdict was read, Theresa let out a wail and embraced her mother-in-law. The two women wept, surrounded by friends and family, as they walked out of the courtroom.
Read had a different reaction. Wearing a white cowboy hat, he looked into a television camera and held one finger up. "This is just Round 1," he said with a smile.
Days later, he met with the Observer and said he planned to file an appeal on procedural grounds. "This was just practice. Felix is no killer. Look at him. I've killed people," he said in reference to his Vietnam service. "He doesn't have it in him."
He promised that at the next trial there would be even more evidence to support his assertion that Oscar Sanchez Jr. was gay and that his uncle had cooked up the scheme. Already, Read claimed, his private investigators had located at least one of Oscar's former gay lovers. At the next trial, everything would be on the table, maybe even the family's long-buried alleged ties to organized crime.
"There's a lot about this family people don't know."
The trial for Richie Acevedo has not been scheduled. His attorney did not return calls from the Observer. Burns said he has not offered Acevedo a plea bargain and doesn't plan to. The family wants to go forward with the trial. He said he wasn't surprised that Read planned to appeal but said he was disappointed by his tactics.
"Some of the things that came up during the trial were so absurd to the point of being completely ridiculous," Burns said. "It is sad to me that that would be the kind of defense you would raise, to put the family through that."
Read says he apologizes for nothing and remains convinced that his client is innocent of murder.
Meanwhile, friends and family of Oscar Sanchez Jr. say they are trying to move on. None of them can make sense of what happened.