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Pair Charged In Murder Of 8-Year-Old Melissa Ortega Denied Bail; Accused Teen Gunman Committed Three Previous Carjackings, Prosecutors Say

By Megan Hickey and Charlie De Mar

CHICAGO (CBS) -- As the accused gunman and getaway driver charged in the murder of 8-year-old Melissa Ortega were ordered held without bail on Thursday, Cook County prosecutors revealed the 16-year-old accused of pulling the trigger was on "intensive probation" and had committed three carjackings in a span of five months.

The CBS 2 Investigators learned Wednesday that the teen accused of fatally shooting Ortega had been in trouble with the law before, having faced previous carjacking and gun charges.

At the accused gunman's bond hearing on Thursday, Cook County prosecutors said 16-year-old Emilio Corripio had committed three aggravated carjackings in the span of just five months last year, and was on "intensive probation" at the time of the murder.

CBS 2 Legal Analyst Irv Miller explained what intensive probation means.

"You are assigned three probation officers that monitor you, and they monitor you 24/7," he said.

The first 30 days of intensive probation are on home confinement.

Miller told CBS 2's Charlie De Mar that in this case, the intensive probation failed tremendously.

"Miserably," Miller said. "Everything failed."

Corripio is charged as an adult with one felony count of first-degree murder, one felony count of attempted first-degree murder, and two felony counts of aggravated discharge of a firearm. The accused getaway driver, 27-year-old Xavier Guzman, also has been charged with one felony count of first-degree murder and one felony count of attempted first-degree murder.

As CBS 2 Investigator Megan Hickey reported, prosecutors called Corripio and Guzman's actions "pure callousness."

Prosecutors said Guzman, an off-duty taxi driver, drove to Corripio's home shortly after 2 p.m. Saturday and picked him up in his cab. The two then drove to Little Village, and Corripio, a self-admitted Latin Kings gang member, saw two people flashing signs for the rival Two-Six gang at the corner of 26th and Komensky.

That's when Guzman drove into a nearby alley and stopped his cab, and Corripio got out and walked back to the corner of 26th and Komensky, where he took out a gun and started shooting at the two rival gang members, hitting one of them in the back.

Melissa, who was walking down 26th Street while holding her mother's hand, was shot in the head.

Prosecutors said Corripio was caught on surveillance camera as he fired the shots, but his face was not clearly visible. However, later videos afterward tracked Guzman's cab, and Corripio's face is clearly visible in later videos of the pair, and the teen is seen wearing the same clothes as the shooter seen on video.

After the shooting, Corripio then ran back to Guzman's car, and the two fled the scene. From there, Guzman and Corripio headed to a Subway restaurant — where they were clearly seen on surveillance cameras "laughing and grabbing sandwiches," according to prosecutors.

Then they went to a gas station for something to drink, where they were also captured on surveillance cameras. Later that night, they returned to the scene of the crime.

"At midnight it drove past a memorial that was placed in the area where Victim 1, Melissa, was shot and killed. The cab's GPS documented this data," Assistant Cook County State's Attorney James Murphy said.

Guzman's cab company identified the cab as Guzman's, and confirmed that he was driving it on Saturday. Police found the murder weapon in his cab when they arrested Guzman. Corripio's fingerprint also was found on the door handle of Guzman's cab.

Prosecutors said Guzman admitted to giving Corripio the gun used in the shooting.

Guzman's and Corripio's defense attorney argued that it was the man flashing gang signs on the corner who instigated the whole incident, and he should be the one charged with Melissa's murder.

At the Wednesday news conference announcing the charges in the case, Chicago Police Supt. David Brown called Melissa "a precious little girl."

"It is unacceptable that she is the latest Chicagoans to fall victim to simplest senseless gang violence," Brown said. "Our city has been shaken and no one can make sense of this tragedy."

Melissa and her mother emigrated from Mexico in August.

"This is an eight-year-old Latina who could've been someone," said activist Keith Thornton. "She came from Mexico to have a better life."

Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx pointed out before the bond hearing that Corripio has a juvenile record.

"The murder of eight year old Melissa Ortega is horrific. Melissa is an American dream that has seamlessly insensitively been taken from all of us are merely walking down the street on a Saturday afternoon with her mother," Foxx said. "So Melissa's mom and her family, I have no words that are of comfort to you. But I'm committed to getting you justice."

Matt DeMateo with New Life Church, has been with the family since the child died. He read a statement from the girl's mother.

"Words cannot describe the pain I am feeling. (On) January 22, I lost my greatest treasure in life. I lost my princess. She was the reason why I got up every morning everything I did I did for her immigrated from Mexico six months ago. We were filled with dreams and had high aspirations imagined a better life here came in search of the American dream we so famously here have run instead I get to live a nightmare for the rest of my life."

A third grader at Emiliano Zapata Academy, Melissa was new to Chicago - here since August - and excited to build a better life with her mother, both from Mexico.

But on her way from the bank to get a hamburger on Saturday afternoon, hand-in-hand with her mom at 26th Street and Pulaski Road in Little Village, gang violence stole all of that from her – and her from her family.

CBS 2 late Wednesday obtained the official police report filed after Melissa's murder. It offered some disturbing details.

The report said detectives found a total of 13 spent shell casings in the area of the shooting.

Also, Melissa's mother told police she was walking on 26th Street from Pulaski Road when she heard gunfire and attempted to run into the bank – when she suddenly felt her daughter's body go limp right in front of the bank.

Police have said the gunfire Melissa and her mother tried to escape was part of a gang war. A family member told CBS 2's Jackie Kostek that Melissa's mother is just not ready to talk about her daughter yet. That family member did say that she hopes no one ever has to go through what she is right now.

Brown said that CPD, the mayor's office and the state's attorney's office worked together to set the charges but the Little Village community was also instrumental.

"Everyone involved in this incident came forward to help us with information to break this case. So if the community can come together in unique ways, should we have behind the scenes. But I think the public aspect of this press conference is important to convey a message only to the community but also to offenders We are working as a team to bring you to justice."

Mayor Lori Lightfoot also expressed her sadness over the death of the 8-year-old.

"It's our obligation neighbors, and my obligation as mayor, to work with stakeholders and leaders of little village to bring peace there once and for all. This isn't a problem that just arose on Saturday," Lightfoot said. "And it's way past time that we unite. We come together and we bring peace to this beautiful, vibrant community of Little Village."

Meantime, prosecutors said Corripio could face up to life in prison if he's convicted. Prosecutors said he was charged as a juvenile in carjackings three times between January and May of last year. He had been placed on electronic monitoring after a carjacking arrest in January, and despite another carjacking arrest in March, was released from electronic monitoring and placed on curfew in April. Then, on May 27, he was arrested in a third carjacking, and was held in custody until June 28, when he was released on electronic monitoring, but that monitoring was vacated in late August, and he was again placed on curfew.

In October, he pleaded delinquent to aggravated vehicular hijacking in two of those cases, and possession of a stolen motor vehicle in the third case, and in December was sentenced to three years' probation, with the first year on "intensive probation," which is designed to provide more contact with probation officers, as well as "comprehensive services and structured supervision" for juveniles considered to be high-risk.

"It's typically the kid that has one foot in the bus on its way to the Department of Corrections, and you want to see if you can avoid that second foot going on the bus," Miller said.

While intensive probation is more structured, Miller said it is ultimately up to the kid to comply.

"This kid slipped through the cracks big time, and society as a whole has paid for it," Miller said.


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