Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Second Division
from the Circuit Court of Cook County, No. 12 CR 3709
Honorable Kay M. Hanlon, Judge Presiding.
JUSTICE HYMAN delivered the judgment of the court, with
opinion. Justices Neville and Simon concurred in the judgment
1 Defendant Jose Camacho was sentenced to 32 years in prison
after a jury found him guilty of first degree murder. On
appeal, he contends the trial court erred in refusing to
provide the jury with an instruction on mitigation from first
degree murder to second degree murder due to provocation. We
disagree. Camacho's version of the incident does not
reveal any evidence of provocation that he willingly entered
into the fight with the victim. Instead, his testimony
establishes he acted defensively, fearing for his life.
2 Camacho also challenges certain monetary assessments
imposed against him that he argues qualify as fines. Camacho
argues, and the State correctly concedes, he is entitled to
$5 per day of presentence custody credit against the $50
court system assessment. Regarding assessments intended to
fund the technological advancement of both the State's
Attorney's and public defender's offices, a
prospective goal, we disagree they were intended to
compensate the state for the costs associated in prosecuting
a particular defendant, and classify them as fines.
4 The State charged Camacho with first degree murder in
connection with the May 24, 2001, death of Flavio Venancio.
The police arrested Camacho in Mexico in 2012, and his trial
began the following year.
5 The evidence at trial showed that Camacho lived with Jose
Zavala and Jose Davila at Zavala's apartment in Hanover
Park. Camacho and Zavala worked together. Zavala testified
that, in the early morning hours of May 25, while he was
sleeping, he heard a knock on his bedroom door. When he
opened the door, he saw Camacho, who "looked sad"
and was dirty. Camacho told Zavala that as he was driving,
his passenger told him to go "faster" and
"faster, " and, when Camacho did, he lost control
of the car and crashed. Camacho told Zavala the crash was the
passenger's fault, but that the passenger told Camacho it
was his fault for "being a dumb ass" who could not
drive. They got out of the car and Camacho told the passenger
to bend over and "look at what he had done." After
that, Camacho grabbed the passenger by the neck and began
hitting him with a pen. Then, Camacho tried to drown the
passenger, but felt "remorseful, " so he pushed on
the passenger's stomach so the water would come out.
Zavala testified that Camacho never told him that the
passenger had a weapon or tried to injure him.
6 That morning, when Zavala arrived at work, he saw
Camacho's car in the employee parking lot. Zavala noticed
damage to the front right side, something he had not seen
before. Camacho, however, did not show up for work.
7 Davila testified that in the afternoon of May 24, 2001,
Camacho drove him to work in his burgundy Mitsubishi and
Davila did not notice any damage to the car. Around midday
the following day, Davila saw Camacho "[i]n a yard for
work." Camacho told him he had a "problem" the
night before with someone who lived in their apartment
complex. Camacho said he and this person were drinking beer,
and, when they ran out, they entered Camacho's car and
drove around to look for more beer. As they were driving,
Camacho hit a guardrail. The passenger became "upset,
" told Camacho he could not drive and told Camacho to
let him drive, which made Camacho "upset." Camacho
eventually drove to a "secluded place" and told the
passenger to get out of the car. Then Camacho began hitting
him with a pen in different parts of his body and submerged
the passenger's head in a pond.
8 Camacho told Davila that, when he realized the passenger
was not moving, he pulled the passenger out of the water and
pushed on his stomach "to see if he would react."
After water came out of the passenger's mouth, Camacho
decided to leave. He threw his car's registration papers
around the area so he could report the car stolen. Camacho
did not tell Davila that the passenger had a weapon or
threatened him or that Camacho was injured. After their
conversation, Davila accompanied Camacho to a bus station
where he bought a ticket to New York. Davila did not see
Camacho again until trial.
9 Davila did not remember telling a grand jury that both
Camacho and the passenger were hitting each other or that,
after Camacho hit the passenger in the stomach with a pen,
they both fell into the water. Davila further did not
remember saying that, after Camacho put the passenger's
head in the water, he pulled him out of the water and pressed
on the passenger's stomach until water came out. Davila
also could not recall telling the grand jury that when
Camacho saw the passenger was "coming to, " he
thought to himself "God help him" and left.
10 Schaumburg police lieutenant Kurt Metzger testified he
investigated a dead body found in a retention pond "off
the beaten path" near the Schaumburg Metra train
station. The body was facedown in the water with the back of
the individual's head exposed. Near the pond, Metzger
found a lanyard attached to an identification card for a
"Pascual Fernandez." Metzger also found
registration paperwork for a Mitsubishi Eclipse and an
insurance card naming Homero Salgado and Antonio Perez of
Anaheim, CA, as the owners. Metzger eventually learned the
victim's name was Flavio Venancio. Other evidence at
trial showed Flavio Venancio was Pascual Fernandez.
11 A week later, Metzger traveled to California and
interviewed Perez and Veronica Tamayo, Camacho's wife.
After these conversations, Metzger sought Camacho, who he
learned used Salgado as an alias. During Metzger's
conversation with Tamayo, she showed him a telephone bill
with calls from collect call numbers. Metzger contacted the
phone company and traced the calls to a residence in Hanover
Park belonging to an individual by the name of Zavala.
Metzger contacted Schaumburg police detective Vito Rago and
told him to visit the Zavala residence.
12 That day, Rago met with Zavala, who took Rago to his
employer's parking lot where Camacho had left his car. In
the lot, Rago saw a red Mitsubishi Eclipse with damage to the
front passenger side. Inside the car, Rago found muddy boots.
Zavala did not know Camacho's whereabouts.
13 In California, Metzger and the Anaheim police department
could not locate Camacho, and the police issued an arrest
warrant for him. Eleven years later, Camacho was arrested in
Mexico and extradited to the United States.
14 Crime scene technician James Herman investigated the dead
body found in the retention pond. He noticed the victim was
facedown in the water. Herman rolled the victim's body
over; the victim's eyes were swollen shut, and he had
lacerations above his left eye. Herman found a cartridge from
the center of a fountain pen. And on a road near the scene,
Herman saw maroon-colored paint on a damaged guardrail,
broken car parts, glass, and a wheel cover with a Mitsubishi
15 Medical examiner Dr. Scott Denton performed the autopsy of
Venancio and observed mud all over his body and in his nose,
mouth, trachea, larynx, lungs, esophagus, and stomach.
Venancio's stomach alone contained nearly 200 cubic
centimeters of mud, more than half the liquid capacity of a
soda can, and pieces of twigs and branches that Denton had
never seen before. Based on the quantity of mud inside the
body, Denton stated that Venancio must have struggled
"an excessive amount." Denton concluded that
Venancio drowned under water by having his face pushed
against mud, which required a "very forceful
event." The drowning could not have been accidental due
to the extent of Venancio's injuries. Denton noted that,
after being submerged in the mud, Venancio likely lost
consciousness within 60 seconds and thereafter could not
16 There were about 20 stab wounds on Venancio, mostly
concentrated on his face, consistent with being inflicted by
a pen as well as various abrasions and impressions elsewhere
on the body that also appeared to have been inflicted by a
pen. An X-ray revealed a piece of pen with a metal tip
1½ inches long deep inside Venancio's left
nostril. Denton stated that only "severe force"
could have broken a pen inside of ...