A Joliet man who served ten years in prison, is free today after a Will County jury found Jesus Zambrano not guilty of first-degree murder in his retrial. Local criminal defense attorney Chuck Bretz says in 2009, Zambrano, who was 18 years of age at the time, was charged as an accomplice to the murder of 36-year old Robert Gooch. Zambrano was convicted in 2013 and sentenced to 45 years in prison. He won an appeal in 2016 and a verdict was handed down in a retrial in Will County this week. Following the not-guilty verdict, Bretz had a life planning meeting with the now 29 year old and shared a meaningful sentiment from one of the jurors. The juror asked Bretz to pass along a message to Zambrano, “don’t let us down.”
Bretz says it’s rare to get a murder conviction overturned but the appellate lawyers used instructions to the jury in the first trial to convince an appellate court to retry the case.
Zambrano was in the car when Gooch was shot in an apartment at the Larkin Village apartment complex but Bretz argued he didn’t know that violence was about to take place when he was in the car.
Zambrano will be joining his mother and siblings who live out of state.
To hear the entire interview, click below.