A Joliet man pleaded guilty to firing a flare gun at a Center Street home three years ago and causing a fire that left two women and an infant dead.
On Thursday, Andy Cerros, 21, pleaded guilty to three counts of first-degree murder for killing Regina Rogers, 28, Rogers’ 11-month-old daughter, Royalty Rogers, and Jacquetta Rogers, 29 on June 3, 2017.
Cerros was 17 at the time of the incident.
The three victims were killed in a house fire on 16 N. Center St., Joliet, and an autopsy revealed their bodies were charred by the blaze, prosecutors said.
Cerros’ plea was part an agreement that included prosecutors dropping seven other criminal charges against him and recommending a prison sentence of 32 years.
The other charges dropped included additional charges of first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, aggravated arson, residential arson and arson.
Judge Vincent Cornelius agreed to sentence Cerros to 32 years in prison and ordered him to serve the full time.
Cerros’ attorney Blake Stone said after Thursday’s hearing that he was “saddened for everyone.”
“I’m saddened for the people who lost their lives,” Stone said.
He said he was also saddened for Cerros.
“He was a person who wanted to desperately fit in and unfortunately the people he wanted to fit in to were bad people,” Stone said.
He said Cerros was not a horrible person.
“He was a kid who got into the wrong car that night,” he said.
Prosecutors said Cerros was riding in a Chrysler Pacifica with several other men, including Manuel Escamilla, 21, who was the driver, and Eric Raya, 22, another passenger, at the time of the flare gun attack.
Prosecutors said the attack was part of an ongoing gang-related feud between Escamilla and Rakeem Venson, who was inside the Center Street home at the time of the incident and managed to escape by jumping out of a window.
Escamilla still faces murder and arson charges in connection with the case, which has yet to go to trial.
Raya was also charged with the same crimes as Cerros and Escamilla but prosecutors dropped them all after he agreed to testify against the two men.
Raya pleaded guilty to obstructing justice for allowing Escamilla to drive off with his Chrysler Pacifica with the flare gun that police said was used to cause the fire. He was sentenced to probation.
Prosecutors are seeking to revoke his probation after he was arrested in Summit on charges of armed robbery, aggravated battery and mob action.
Five Joliet police detectives were awarded for their investigation that led to the arrests of Cerros, Escamilla and Raya. Jim Voudrie, Tizoc Landeros, Jeffery German, Jose Martinez and Darrell Gavin received the Award for Excellence at the 2018 Illinois Homicide Investigators Association annual conference
Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow also commended the detectives when charges were first filed against Cerros, Escamilla and Raya.
“These charges reflect the dogged determination these detectives and their entire division demonstrate on every single case they handle. They literally leave no stone unturned when it comes to protecting the citizens of Joliet,” Glasgow said.