December 5th 1996 is a day I will never be able to forget. On that day, Jorge Munoz killed my son Christopher McNelly on the order of a gang leader, Victor Rodriguez. Prior to Christopher’s murder there was an argument at a wedding. It began when the gang leader made a very inappropriate remark to my son’s fiance. The gang leader confronted Chris at a later date, pushed Chris to the ground and they started fighting. Chris’s friend broke up the fight. At the time Chris’ fiance was three months pregnant and pleade with them to stop the fighting, reminding them she was pregnant and shouldn’t be upset or stressed.
Months later they saw each other again. The gang leader started the argument again. He pulled out a knife and tried to stab Chris. Chris survived that altercation but an hour later, Chris was surrounded by the gang leader and other members of the gang. The gang leader gave Jorge Munoz the order to kill Christopher.
With that, Munoz removed a 12 guage shotgun he had hidden underneat his coat. He shot and killed Christopher in cold blood.
This was a case of premeditated murder. The fact that the gang leaders returned with his gang within an hour after having an argument with Christopher indicates he had time to orchestrate the shooting and murder of my son.
This was not “in the heat of the moment”. It was not an accident or mistake. It was cold blooded murder.
There were two witnesses to this horrific murder. One worked for the police department who testified he saw Christopher with his hands held up in the air when Munoz shot him. The other witness was the gang leader’s roomate. He fled to Chicago in fear of his life after being questioned by police about his knowledge of the murder and the observation of the gang leader and Munoz celebrating the murder.
Releasing Munoz on parole one day will be a clear and present danger to society. His actions prove he has not value for human life.
My grandson Christopher Jr is a teenager now. He knows his father was murdered. He knows his father and mother never had the wedding they had planned, never had a brother or sister for him to play with, nor did they ever get to live their lives as they had planned. Christopher realizes his father will never be there for the important milestones of his life – a ball game, graduation, marriage, or helping to explain life’s mysteries.
Any release of either Victor Rodriguez or Jorge Munoz would mean we would be in fear for our lives. Gang members have been known to take vengeance upon those who have testified against them. There is no indication that either of them are no longer active in their gang. They should serve the life sentences with no chance for parole for the murder of my son Christopher McNelly.
Supporting legislation to retroactively undo life sentences duly given to convicted murderers is giving permission for other juveniles to commit murder without the dire consequence of spending their lives behind bars. More so, it is creating a loophole for gangs to have juveniles do their dirty work for them, as they might be seen to get a lesser sentence.
Supporting such legislation will not reduce crime but enhance it. It will not help to empty prisons, it will help to fill them. It will not deter juvenile offenders from making the wrong choice when faced with critical decisions of right and wrong. Rather it will help justify the poor choices they make and allow them to be pawns in adult crimes.