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Gang Member Who Refused To Testify Could Get 10 Years For Code Of Silence

By Anna Deem in News on Feb 27, 2011 7:30PM

Robert Meza.
The "code of silence" brought a suburban murder trial to a halt last summer, when prosecutors attempted to argue that Antonio Aguilar Jr. and Robert Meza shot into a window in west suburban Addison, hoping to hit a rival gang member. Instead, Lorenzo Salazar-Cortez, 22, a bystander with no gang affiliation, was killed. Although Meza had already been sentenced to 45 years in prison for his involvement in the shooting, he still said nothing when he took the stand to testify about Aguilar's involvement. "I apologize, sir, but I cannot answer any questions," Meza said to Judge George Bakalis via the Huffington Post.

The trial was suspended last June once Meza refused to speak. Last week, Aguilar was acquitted. Judge Bakalis made an example of Meza's refusal to testify in ruining the prosecution's case. "The court cannot decide this case on a gut feeling," the judge said, according to the Daily Herald newspaper. "It is no help to speculate the defendant may have killed the victim."

After pleading guilty on Thursday to "serious direct criminal contempt," it appears that Meza may end up paying for his adherence to the code of silence after all. According to the Chicago Tribune, the judge in the contempt case, Kathryn Creswell, said that she will abide by a plea agreement Meza made with prosecutors that he receives no more than ten years in prison for pleading guilty to the contempt charge. The additional years will be added on to his 45-year sentence.