Crime & Courts

Attorney: Police ignored Woodstock man's requests for lawyer during murder interrogation

Victor Romero-Palos, 37, of Woodstock
Victor Romero-Palos, 37, of Woodstock

A 37-year-old Woodstock man spoke up several times to tell detectives he wanted to speak with an attorney as he was interrogated in a homicide investigation, the man’s public defender said.

Police, however, continued to question the man, and eventually charged him with first-degree murder, McHenry County Assistant Public Defender Grant Tucker said in a typed motion.

Tucker is seeking to suppress statements that Victor Romero-Palos made to police July 5, 2017, after he requested an attorney.

McHenry County Assistant State’s Attorney Michael Combs entered into the record Thursday a transcript of Romero-Palos’ police interview, which had been translated from Spanish to English.

During police questioning, a request for an attorney must be clear, Combs said, and he asked the judge to refer to the interview’s transcript while making a determination.

Woodstock police began their recorded interrogation of Romero-Palos the morning of July 5, 2017. He was charged later that morning with two counts of first-degree murder in connection with the death of a 41-year-old Woodstock man, Cesar Rangel.

Woodstock police arrested Romero-Palos on June 16 – only eight hours after Rangel was shot to death. At the time, he faced only cocaine possession and delivery charges. More than two weeks later, however, police said it was Romero-Palos who shot and killed Rangel in a municipal parking lot near the intersection of East Calhoun and South Jefferson streets in Woodstock.

Rangel was found at the scene and taken to Northwestern Medicine Woodstock Hospital, where he died of blood loss from a gunshot wound.

After Woodstock police told Romero-Palos he had the right to an attorney, the man said he has not been able to speak to a lawyer, but that he wanted to, Tucker said in court Friday.

A Woodstock detective ignored Romero-Palos’ request, however, and only agreed to get him an attorney if he provided investigators with the suspected murder weapon – a pistol, according to Tucker’s July 20 motion.

Several statements Romero-Palos made before requesting an attorney, however, potentially could come up at trial. McHenry County Judge James Cowlin is expected to announce his decision at 10 a.m. Nov. 15. Romero-Palos remains at the McHenry County Jail on a $7 million bond.

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