The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Local News

February 26, 2010

King pleads guilty to shooting

DANVILLE — The suspect in a 2009 murder pleaded guilty Thursday to a lesser charge in Vermilion County Circuit Court.

Joseph King, 19, of St. Joseph, was charged with five counts of first-degree murder in the fatal shooting of Alberto Cardoza just minutes after midnight on Jan. 1, 2009, outside a New Year’s Eve party at 735 Bryan Ave.

State’s Attorney Randy Brinegar said King entered a guilty plea in court in exchange for lesser charges of second-degree murder and possession of a firearm without a FOID card.

As part of the plea, King was sentenced to a total of 30 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections — 20 years for the second-degree murder and 10 years for the firearm offense, Brinegar said. He will receive day-for-day time off his sentence for good behavior.

King faced up to 60 years or life in prison under the original first-degree murder charges.

A Danville police detective testified at King’s preliminary hearing last year that King had admitted to the shooting.

Brinegar said there was enough evidence to support the second-degree charge over the first-degree charge, saying witness interviews indicated there was not intent on King’s behalf to kill Cardoza.

According to Brinegar, both men were at a party when King confronted Cardoza on the porch of the home. King pointed the gun he was carrying at Cardoza to scare him and the gun went off.

How the gun went off remains in dispute among the witness statements. The shot to the shoulder — ordinarily not a fatal wound — was magnified by the bullet ricocheting off the bone and into Cardoza’s body, Brinegar said.

Police testified at King’s preliminary hearing that Cardoza grabbed the gun and it went off, firing one shot into Cardoza’s left shoulder. Cardoza never regained consciousness following the shooting and was pronounced dead at Provena United Samaritans Medical Center about 30 minutes later.

Police also testified both men were members of street gangs — the Latin Kings and the Gangster Disciples.

King was arrested was arrested a week after the shooting by Erlanger, Ky., police officers on a warrant issued in connection with the shooting. He was returned to the Public Safety Building after waiving extradition.

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