JOLIET, IL — A convicted sex offender who is facing first-degree murder charges in connection with the October 2018 kidnapping and slaying of 25-year-old Ashley Tucker of Joliet will not be leaving the Will County Jail to attend his 16-year-old son's funeral.
On Thursday, lawyers from Chuck Bretz & Associates appeared before Will County Judge Dave Carlson on behalf of their client, Peter Zabala. The 44-year-old Joliet man remains in jail awaiting his first-degree murder trial in connection with Tucker's slaying.
On the night of Oct. 13, 2018, Tucker vanished near her apartment complex on Joliet's far east side. Her bones were recovered several days later inside a burn barrel at a property north of Joliet's city limits.
On Sunday morning, Zabala's 16-year-old son, Pedro, was fatally gunned down near the intersection of South Ottawa and Munroe Streets. By Monday evening, Joliet police arrested Jimmy Baker, 18, on four felony weapons charges.
Will County prosecutors told Judge Brian Barrett on Tuesday afternoon that Pedro Zabala fired his gun first, prompting Baker to return fire, hide his weapon and run from the neighborhood after killing Pedro on the city sidewalk.
In the aftermath of Pedro's slaying, Joliet criminal defense attorneys Neil Patel and Charles Bretz filed a motion seeking a contact visit for Peter Zabala with his 30-year-old sister, his 14-year-old son, his 15-year-old daughter and his mother. The first-degree murder defendant's lawyers also requested that Carlson issue their client several new phone cards to use at the Will County Jail.
Bretz told Joliet Patch on Thursday that the judge granted his motion.
Bretz indicated, however, that his client will not be attending the funeral services for Pedro.
Bretz said that funeral homes have implemented significant restrictions on visitations and funerals because of the new coronavirus. As a result, Bretz did not seek the temporary release of Peter Zabala from the Will County Jail in order to attend the upcoming wake and funeral.
Bretz said the issuance of several phone cards for his client plus the opportunity to have a contact visit at the Will County Jail from other family members seemed a fair resolution of the matter.
Peter Zabala's first-degree murder case probably will not go to a trial until 2021 or 2022, according to court officials.
Joliet police have said that Zabala and Tucker knew each other and that he was the last person to be with her prior to her disappearance from the Ridgewood area of Joliet's east side.
"This case has touched every member of the department that has dedicated time and effort to solving what began as a mystery," Police Chief Al Roechner said in late 2018. "Our hearts go out to the family, and our mission from day one was to help them attain some semblance of closure, knowing that nothing prepares you for this kind of tragedy. We will continue to work with the members of the Will County State's Attorney's Office until Peter Zabala is prosecuted to the fullest extent."