Juan Avalos

A former North Riverside resident, convicted last month of attempted murder and aggravated unlawful discharge of a firearm, was sentenced to 26 years in prison on Aug. 8, with the judge noting he must serve 85 percent of the sentence – 22 years – before becoming eligible for parole.

Judge Noreen Love announced the sentence for Juan C. Avalos before a courtroom filled with his friends. Avalos, according to North Riverside police, had appeared defiant in the courtroom throughout the process of seeing the case to trial in July.

On July 12, Love found Avalos, 24, guilty of all of nine counts leveled against him by a grand jury. Six of those counts were for attempted murder, a Class X felony that carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison.

Love handed down a heavy sentence against Avalos despite the fact that he did not hit any of his intended targets when he fired a handgun at them from a North Riverside alley on July 10, 2011.

The sentence also came despite the fact that some witnesses, including Avalos’ intended targets, became uncooperative with prosecutors as the case advanced to trial. According to North Riverside police, Love ordered the witnesses to appear at court dates or be held in contempt.

Statements the witnesses made to the grand jury formed the primary basis of the case against Avalos.

Avalos last week was transferred from Cook County Jail to Stateville Correctional Center in Joliet, where he will continue serving his sentence. He was free on bond until his conviction on July 12.

North Riverside police identified Avalos as a suspect almost immediately after the incident, which began as a verbal and then physical altercation between rival gang members.

During the altercation, at least one of Avalos’ rivals began throwing rocks at Avalos and another man. That reportedly led to Avalos fleeing into the alley between the 2300 blocks of Northgate and Hainsworth avenues, where he pulled out a 9mm handgun from a backpack and began firing at three other rival gang members.

Police recovered eight shell casings from the alley and noted that at least one bullet struck a garage.

Avalos remained at large until Oct. 6, 2011, when he was picked up by Stickney police on an unrelated complaint. North Riverside police charged him initially, but those charges were superseded by a grand jury indictment, which included six counts of attempted murder and three counts of aggravated unlawful discharge of a firearm.