The lawyers for a Joliet woman charged with setting up a sex date with a teenage boy have yet to see evidence supposedly held by the FBI, but unless they back down on a demand for a quick resolution to her case, she may have to go to trial on Monday.
Will County Judge Edward Burmila said during a Wednesday hearing that he was not going to hold local prosecutors responsible for coughing up evidence in the possession of the FBI and that he would not delay Monday's trial date for Margarita Hernandez—unless Hernandez's lawyers agree to postpone the proceedings.
Hernandez, 33, was arrested in October after allegedly orchestrating a sexual liaison with a 15-year-old Chicago boy. The teen is the friend of the son of one of Hernandez's cousins, officials said.
Hernandez allegedly had sex with the boy in the far west side home she shares with her much-older live-in lover, 76-year-old weekly newspaperman John Gabriel.
During a lengthy hearing Wednesday, defense attorney Steve Landis said Hernandez and Gabriel were the patsies in a frame job concocted by the mother of either the 15-year-old or his friend.
"Mr. Gabriel resides with our client and we believe one of the people who is trying to put this case on Ms. Hernandez is the mother (of one of the teens) who has a grudge against Mr. Gabriel," Landis said.
Gabriel has called the case a setup from the start—but claimed he was the one being targeted by the many enemies he made during his years in community journalism.
"There's a lot of people I have angered," Gabriel said in the wake of Hernandez's arrest.
"They're punishing an innocent girl to try to get even with me," he said, "and it is a dirty, rotten shame."
Landis and co-counsel Daniel Locallo want the FBI to turn over the cell phones Hernandez and the teen supposedly used to plan their sexcapades. But Assistant State's Attorney Sarah Shutts produced a memo from the feds saying the phones were examined and no trace of any sexy texts between the two was found. Shutts said she will prove at trial that Hernandez and the teen communicated via email.
Landis and Locallo also asked for more complete evidence of the alleged email exchange. Burmila told them to issue a subpoena. Shutts said she has already secured a search warrant for Google to give up the messages.
Shutts also said a new witness was interviewed on Tuesday.
"I do believe that more discovery is going to be coming on this case," she said.