During unusual court hearings, prosecutors accuse a Chicago man of killing 2 people, but only charge him with one

Chicago — During a pair of court hearings this weekend, prosecutors said a Chicago man killed two people in about five hours at Christmastime, but they only charged him with one of the crimes. His girlfriend, who’s not accused of personally killing anyone, is charged with the other. Officials did not explain their seemingly unusual charging decision.

Marlin Zuniga, 20, and her boyfriend, Alexis Vazquez, 21, were each held without bail during bond hearings before different judges on Sunday afternoon.

During Zuniga’s hearing, Assistant State’s Attorney Lisa Morrison told Judge Kelly McCarthy that the couple decided to rob 18-year-old Brian Toledo-Gavilane because he had a nice car and they suspected he had money.

From left: Brian Toledo-Gavilane, Marlin Zuniga, Alexis Vazquez, and Frank Lamardo. | Chicago Police Department; National Gun Violence Memorial

They lured him to a home in the 4600 block of North Lawndale around 8:15 p.m. on December 23, and Zuniga watched as Vazquez confronted Toledo-Gavilane outside, Morrison said. The men fought, and Vazquez shot Toledo-Gavilane in the chest, killing him, according to Morrison.

The couple took a rideshare to Vazquez’s home, and their phones pinged together before, during, and after the murder, Morrison alleged.

Despite the fact that Morrison identified Vazquez as the person who murdered Toledo-Gavilane, he has not been charged in the case. He is, however, charged with killing another man about five hours later.

In a separate bail hearing for Vazquez in front of Judge Ankur Srivastava, Morrison said 40-year-old Frank Lamardo and his girlfriend got a call to pick Vazquez up from his home, and the group drove around the city. Vazquez eventually asked Lambardo to take him back home and drop him off in the alley.

After saying their goodbyes, Vazquez pulled out a gun as he exited the SUV and shot Lamardo twice in the back of the head, Morrison alleged. Lamardo’s Jeep sped down the alley, hit a few trees, and crashed into a light pole.

In another unusual twist, Morrison said that phones belonging to both Vazquez and Zuniga tracked along with the Jeep from when Lamardo picked up Vazquez until Lamardo was killed. But witnesses allegedly told authorities that the couple often shared their phones, and Morrison said Lamardo recorded a Snapchat during the trip that showed only he, Vazquez, and Lamardo’s girlfriend were in the Jeep.

About 90 minutes after Lamardo was killed, Brookfield police received a 911 call from Zuniga. They found her standing outside a home, intoxicated, with a bloody hand and nose. She told them Vazquez had sexually assaulted her and left her there, Morrison said.

She recanted the sexual assault allegation, but she did tell police that Vazquez had killed a man in Albany Park, Morrison said. Morrison says that Zuniga told police that she and Vazquez planned a robbery that led to Toledo-Gavilane’s death, and that she named Vazquez as the killer.

Her public defender said she works as a customer support agent at O’Hare. She has never been arrested and had no idea that the robbery would turn into a murder, the lawyer argued.

She’s charged with first-degree murder, armed robbery by discharging a firearm, and murder during the commission of a forcible felony in connection with the Toledo-Gavilane case.

Vazquez, who has no criminal background, works in construction and attends church with his family almost every Sunday, according to his public defender.

He is charged with first-degree murder for Lamardo’s death. But he faces no charges in connection with Toledo-Gavilane’s robbery and slaying.

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CWBChicago was created in 2013 by five residents of Wrigleyville and Boystown who had grown disheartened with inaccurate information that was being provided at local Community Policing (CAPS) meetings. Our coverage area has expanded since then to cover Lincoln Park, River North, The Loop, Uptown, and other North Side Areas. But our mission remains unchanged: To provide original public safety reporting with better context and greater detail than mainstream media outlets. Our editorial email address is news@cwbchicago.com