Both defendants in acid attack found guilty

September 29, 2010 (CHICAGO)

The sinister plot left Esperanza Medina's face and body severely burned. It took a jury just over an hour to reach a verdict against Maria Olvera-Garcia, 37, finding her guilty of heinous battery, which carries a maximum of 45 years in prison.

Esperanza Medina cried when the verdict was read. On Tuesday, she said she just wanted to see justice served. She said she hoped the defendants both get the maximum possible sentence.

Medina has worked through the physical and emotional pain of the sulfuric acid attack for two years. It has taken just two days for the trial of the two women accused of organizing the attack to go to the jury.

Prosecutors say Ofelia Garcia, 60, and Olvera-Garcia were jealous that Medina was dating a man they both had been involved with, and recruited three teens to carry out the attack on July 28, 2008.

The attack left Medina disfigured with acid burns to 25% of her body.

Separate juries decided each of the cases because the two defendants each accused each other. Each jury took less than two hours to reach a guilty verdict.

In closing arguments for Olvera-Garcia, Assistant State's Attorney Kim Foxx said the defendant had an important role in the attack, helping Garcia case the house three times and drive the teens close to the scene of the Logan Square attack.

Defense attorney Michael Holzman said there is reasonable doubt in the details because Olvera-Garcia signed her name on a statement that implicated her in the attack, a statement written in English, that she cannot read or write.

Bond was revoked for Olvera-Garcia, a mother of five. Her sentencing will be in November. After the verdict, there was reaction from her attorney and the Cook County State's Attorney.

"I believe that they heard the evidence and looked at everything and obviously felt strongly in finding this particular defendant [Olvera-Garcia] guilty," said Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez.

"I think it is a very e emotional case," said defense attorney Michael Holzman. "I think Ms. Medina was a compelling person. There was a handwritten statement which I think carried a lot of weight, and I think the case was emotionally charged."

Medina spent most of the last two years rarely showing her face outside except to the doctors who helped her recover, with skin grafts and other treatments.

She was anxious to testify in her attackers' trial.

"I didn't care any more what people looked at me," said Medina. "I know I'm beautiful, and I really don't care any more."

Medina said she plans to go back to school. She also says she plans to continue working with doctors on treatments for her injuries.

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