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Aurora cousins' drug convictions reversed
By Matt Hanley
Staff Writer
April 5, 2006
Two Aurora cousins may get a new trial after the appellate court reversed their 2003 convictions on drug-possession charges. 
The appellate court has ruled that Froilan and Juvenal Martinez should have been able to question the confidential informant who led them into a police sting.

Froilan and Juvenal were sentenced to 17 and 15 years in prison, respectively, after they agreed to buy cocaine from a man who turned out to be an undercover officer.

Their attorney, Kathleen Colton, argued at the time that the cousins had been led by a third man — the confidential informant for police — into an entrapment case.

According to court documents, the cousins were approached by a man they did not know — named in court documents as "Juan" — who asked if the cousins could help him sell cocaine. The cousins testified they had no previous experience selling drugs, but the man insisted on introducing them to his supplier, "Pelon. "

Pelon was an undercover Aurora officer who continued to call the cousins, asking them to buy drugs. The cousins eventually arranged for someone to make the purchase, although they testified that they were afraid Pelon would hurt them if they didn't complete the sale.

Colton appealed the case on two points — that the identity of "Juan," the confidential informant who first introduced the cousins to the undercover officer, should have been revealed; and that the state failed to prove that the cousins weren't entrapped.

The appellate court agreed that the confidential informant played an important role as a potential witness to the crime.

"Juan played a prominent role in laying the groundwork for the offense that eventually occurred," the court opinion said. "Since predisposition is necessarily determined by a defendant's willingness to participate in criminal activity before his initial exposure to government agents, defendants should have had the opportunity to call Juan as a witness or at least interview him prior to trial."

Because the court felt defendants met the burden for appeal on the first criteria, they did not examine whether prosecutors failed to prove the cousins weren't entrapped.

"I absolutely feel vindicated," Colton said. "This whole case for these two young men is a colossal miscarriage of justice."

Colton said she will ask for the informant's identity to be revealed if the case is reopened in Kane County.

The state's attorney's office is reviewing the decision to see if it will appeal the case to the Supreme Court or bring it back to the county.

"We are examining all options," said Nemura Pencyla, first chair on the Kane County narcotics prosecution unit. "We have not made a decision to pursue a petition leave for appeal as of yet. We respect the (appellate) court's decision, yet it's adverse to our position that we took back in the trial court."