AURORA, IL — An Aurora woman who was sentenced to spend 20 years in prison for trying to have her ex-boyfriend killed is set to receive a new trial after an appellate court reversed her conviction.
Illinois’ Second District Appellate Court ruled last week that Maricela Arciga did not receive a fair trial in 2014, when she was found guilty of solicitation of murder and solicitation of murder for hire.
Arciga, 33, argued she was entrapped by her boyfriend at the time, who was a police informant and had worked with Aurora police, according to a report by the Aurora Beacon-News.
During a discussion with her boyfriend and a federal agent posing as his cousin, Arciga said she wanted her ex-boyfriend out of her life, according to the appellate court’s ruling. Arciga provided details about what she wanted done to her ex-boyfriend after the federal agent repeatedly asked her to tell him more, the ruling states.
Arciga spoke with the undercover agent several times over the next week about how to arrange a meeting between the agent and her ex-boyfriend, according to the ruling.
Arciga paid $200 to the undercover agent and said she would give him $1,800 after he killed her ex-boyfriend, the Aurora Beacon-News reports. On the night she was arrested, Arciga told detectives she wanted to have her ex-boyfriend killed because she thought he would kill her if she didn’t sell drugs for him.
At her trial in 2014, Arciga testified that she told police about her ex-boyfriend threatening her and reported he stole her car and burned it. The officer taking the report “told her that it would be pointless to try to get an order of protection” because her ex-boyfriend did not hit her, the ruling states.
The appellate court ruled a Kane County court made errors during the jury-selection process and questioned whether Arciga would have participated in the murder-for-hire plot without being encouraged by her boyfriend and the federal agent posing as his cousin.
“A defendant who raises entrapment as an affirmative defense necessarily admits to committing the crime, albeit because of improper governmental inducement,” Justice Robert McLaren wrote in the court’s ruling.
To use an entrapment defense, a defendant must present evidence the state induced them into committing the crime and that they “lacked the predisposition” to do it on their own, the ruling states.
The ruling states Arciga’s attorney failed to properly defend her because the jury did not hear that Arciga had no prior criminal record. That would’ve forced prosecutors to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Arciga “was ready and willing to commit the crime” before participating in the murder-for-hire plot, according to the ruling.
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