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No jail term for White Chicago teen who killed 15-year-old kid in drug deal gone wrong

Cook County Judge Steven Bernstein awarded three years probation to the juvenile killer and told him he was a 'bright kid with a bright future'
UPDATED DEC 16, 2021
Glenbrook South High School sophomore Elias Valdez,15, was killed in August 2020 by the 17-year-old White teen (ABC 7)
Glenbrook South High School sophomore Elias Valdez,15, was killed in August 2020 by the 17-year-old White teen (ABC 7)

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS: A White teen will not spend any time behind bars even after it was proven that he killed a 15-year-old boy last year in 2020, during a drug sale gone wrong. The killer, whose name has not been revealed since he is a minor, pleaded guilty to the 2020 murder of Glenbrook South High School sophomore Elias Valdez and was awarded just three years probation and 100 hours of community service.

Valdez was found in a critical condition with stab wounds on his chest in the grassy parkway on the 1200 block of Greenwood Road on the evening of August 5, 2020. He was then taken to Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, but he died during surgery.


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Police said the victim was stabbed after he did not pay for marijuana which he took from the 17-year-old. The convict killed the victim using a utility tool blade. On Monday, December 13, the unnamed teenager was sentenced and though Cook County Judge Steven Bernstein expressed his disappointment in him, he also told him: “I see a child like you who has two parents concerned with his welfare. [You're] a bright kid with a bright future.”

“I don't think you're a murderer, but you killed this child and you have to live with that for the rest of your life,” Bernstein stated, before addressing Valdez’s family, “You'll never get closure. I wish I could tell you you will. Your son will be in your heart forever.” According to reports, the victim’s family wanted their son’s murderer to be charged with first-degree murder and held in custody. But to their disappointment, he was charged with second-degree murder and placed on house arrest. The family also protested against the judgement at the Glenview Police Department and the Skokie courthouse in 2020.

A victim impact statement was read by pastor Carl Guadagno on behalf of Valdez's mother, Marcela Fierros, who described her pain as “living in a dark tunnel I'm not able to get through”. She expressed her family's loss, saying: “A mother doesn't expect to bury a child so young and much less in such a tragic and overwhelming way. He was only 15 years old and had so many dreams to accomplish. ... His goals were to graduate from high school, study law enforcement and become a police officer. When the defendant stabbed my son, he stabbed the heart of my family,” Fierros added.

The devastated mother also expressed her unhappiness over the judgement and called the court’s decision “white privilege” in her statement and added that if a Latino teen had killed a Caucasian, he would have been tried as an adult “and spent years behind bars.” But defense attorney David Kerstein defended the verdict and said: “There is no privilege here. There is no special treatment.” He also added that “it takes two to make a drug deal. Mr. Valdez was a buyer.”

Meanwhile, people on Twitter also weren't pleased with the verdict. A user tweeted, “The lawyer blamed Elias saying ‘it takes two for a drug deal’... yeah, but it only takes one person to stab another person to death.” Another one commented, “What the hell is going on, he repeatedly stabbed him in the chest? I can see if he stabbed him once caught himself and stopped! No he needed to be thrown in jail, he has learned NOTHING!!!” “Nope It's a white privilege Black people don't get away with shit like this,” a person added.