Jesus Rodriguez

Jesus Rodriguez (Illinois Department of Corrections photos / June 12, 2012)

An appeals court has rejected the claims of a man who said closing arguments made by DuPage County prosecutors in his road rage murder trial were prejudicial, State's Attorney Robert Berlin said today.

The three-judge panel of the 2nd appellate district affirmed the conviction of Jesus Rodriguez, 54, for the murder of John Spoors of Addison. On Aug, 29, 1981, Rodriguez become embroiled in a road rage incident in Addison with the driver of a second vehicle in which Spoors was a passenger, according to authorities

Rodriguez tailed the men to a gas station, and, armed with a pistol, confronted them. Spoors was shot in the back as he tried to run away. The other driver, a co-worker of Spoors, was not injured. Although police were able to identify Rodriguez, he eluded capture and eventually settled in Mexico, where authorities, acting on a tip, arrested him in 2008.

He stood trial in 2010, was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to a 37-year prison term.

In his appeal, Rodriguez, who was also known as Jesus Villarreal, said he was denied a fair trial because of statements made at closing by prosecutors and that his own attorney should have objected to the arguments.

But the appeals court rejected Rodriguez, saying the prosecutor's remarks were not improper and not grave enough to threaten the integrity of the trial.

"The final chapter in the murder of John Spoors has been written and it is my sincerest hope that with the appellate court's decision, John's family and friends will be able to move on with their lives knowing that Mr. Rodriguez will pay a significant price for the murder of John Spoors," Berlin said.

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