Joliet Sunday slaying linked to claim of disrespect shown to roadside memorial

Joliet police chief: Jwaun Jones was victim of ‘such a tragic and senseless act’

A man charged in the Easter Sunday homicide in Joliet told police that the teen shot to death was in an SUV playing loud music that was disrespectful to a makeshift roadside memorial, a prosecutor said in court Wednesday.

A judge set a $1 million bond for Abraham Bibian, 19, of the 1200 block of Edge Hill Avenue, Joliet, and Paola Diaz, 26, of the 400 block of Oneida Street, who were both jailed Tuesday on charges of first-degree murder over the slaying of Jwaun Jones, 18, who was shot while riding as a passenger of a vehicle near Western Avenue and Bluff Street.

Joliet police said that the motive for the homicide is still under investigation.

At Wednesday’s bond hearing, Will County Assistant State’s Attorney Peter Wilkes told Judge Brian Barrett that Jones was killed after he was shot twice in the head while inside of an SUV with three other occupants. The occupants took Jones to the emergency room at AMITA Health Saint Joseph Medical Center in Joliet, where he died.

An investigation led to police to apprehending Diaz, who admitted that she was at the scene of incident with her boyfriend and Bibian, Wilkes said. Diaz identified Bibian as the shooter, he said.

Diaz told police that they traveled to Chicago earlier on Sunday to purchase a rifle for $1,000 that was used in the shooting, Wilkes said. Police later recovered the rifle from Diaz’s home, he said.

Bibian was later arrested and he gave several versions of what happened before he admitted he was at the scene and that he saw an SUV – which Wilkes said was carrying Jones – cross over the Cass Street bridge “playing loud music” and “disrespecting the memorial of his friend,” Wilkes said.

Wilkes said there was a makeshift memorial for a traffic fatality victim at the intersection of Western Avenue and Bluff Street. He did not identify the memorial other than by its location, which is where there is a roadside memorial for Juan Pablo Salazar, 19, who died on March 28 after he was involved in a fiery single-vehicle crash.

Joliet police are investigating the cause of the crash.

According to Wilkes, Bibian said the driver of the SUV in which Jones was a passenger pulled out a handgun. Bibian said he feared his life when he retrieved a rifle and fired several shots, Wilkes said. Diaz told police she did not see anyone in the SUV display a gun, he said.

Wilkes said what began as a tragic loss of life at the end of March was “exponentially compounded” with Jones’ death. He asked that both defendants have their bond set at $3 million.

“They do present a threat to the community,” he said.

Bibian’s attorney Neil Patel argued against the $3 million bond, saying his client is not a flight risk, has no criminal history and was once an altar boy.

Patel argued that there were weaknesses in prosecution’s case against Bibian. He said there were no independent eyewitnesses putting Bibian at the scene except for Diaz, who was in possession of the rifle and implicated two men over the incident, including her boyfriend.

“She has a clear motive to pin this on somebody else,” Patel said.

Diaz was assigned a Will County assistant public defender, Joseph Pavur, who asked Barrett for a reasonable bond amount.

Barrett set the $1 million bond for Bibian and Diaz.

In a news release, Joliet police Sgt. Dwayne English said the arrest began when a suspect vehicle was stopped by police at 8:20 p.m. Monday near East Jackson and Herkimer streets. The occupants were brought to the police department for questioning.

“Further investigation revealed that the firearm used in the homicide was at a residence on Oneida Street. Detectives later recovered this firearm after receiving consent to search the residence,” English said.

Detectives gathered information that determined both Bibian and Diaz were involved in the commission of Jones’ homicide, English said.

Cristian Fuentes-Alvarez, 19, of Romeoville, was also one of the occupants inside the vehicle but he was not charged with murder, English said. Fuentes-Alvarez was charged with aggravated unlawful use of a weapon and unlawful possession of ammunition.

“Officers identified Fuentes-Alvarez as a passenger of the vehicle. Fuentes-Alvarez indicated to officers that he possessed a handgun. Officers recovered a loaded handgun from Fuentes-Alvarez, and he was placed into custody without incident,” English said.

In a statement, Joliet Police Chief Dawn Malec said, “Our thoughts go out to the family and friends of Jwaun Jones, the victim of such a tragic and senseless act.”

“I want to thank our officers and detectives for their dedication and tireless pursuit of those responsible for this awful crime,” Malec said.

Felix Sarver

Felix Sarver covers crime and courts for The Herald-News