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2011 case figures in Marseilles drive-by shooting

The defendant in a Marseilles drive-by shooting case is claiming investigators kept trying to question him despite his refusal to talk.

Esteban M. Avila, 24, Ottawa, is charged with firing gunshots Dec. 31 at a house in the 300 block of Chicago Street and slightly wounding a woman inside the house. Esteban remains in the county jail in lieu of $30,000 cash bond.

Avila's attorney, Fred Morelli, of Aurora, a former judge, said in court papers this week investigators tried to question Avila three times after his arrest, with Avila declining to talk each time. After his third refusal, investigators reported Avila became "agitated and nervous," with his leg shaking and his palms sweating.

Morelli said Avila's alleged agitation and nervousness should not be brought up in court, because police should never have continued approaching him to talk.

Morelli also doesn't want a potential witness to be allowed to characterize Avila as having remained angry with a man with whom Avila had been in a fight. Morelli said the witness said Avila and the man shook hands after their fight, but Avila's expression indicated he was still hostile. Morelli said the witness could not know by Avila's supposed expression what Avila felt.

Prosecutors have to turn over to the defense the materials accumulated during an investigation. This week, prosecutors gave Morelli a compact disc containing a 143-page report on a 2011 felony marijuana case that stemmed from Streator. In that case, a man was charged, but the charge was dropped after a judge found police improperly entered a home and obtained evidence.

Avila's next hearing is Thursday, April 12.

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