Slain student's mom: Stop killing children

September 29, 2010 (CHICAGO)

A 22-year-old man was convicted Tuesday of supplying the loaded gun that killed Frankie Valencia.

The members of the extended Valencia family came back to the Cook County courts Wednesday to offer some perspective on how justice unfolded for them, what they've really lost and how one man's death should mark the beginning of change in Chicago.

"Gangbangers, stop killing our innocent children. Keep your bullets to yourselves," said Joy McCormack, mother.

A broken-hearted family offers a glimpse of the face and mind of Francisco "Frankie" Valencia, killed last year by gangbangers upset that they were not allowed into a Halloween party.

On Tuesday, a Cook County jury convicted Berly Valladares of first degree murder for providing the gun and ammunition that Narciso Gatica used to kill Valencia, a 21-year-old DePaul senior with dreams of community service.

"These gang members chose a life of risk. Sadly, they made that choice for our son too," said McCormack.

On Wednesday, Valencia's family cried out for a change in mindset in Chicago -- that their son's death should serve as a call to action for people to say enough violence already.

"He was a college student at a private university, we live in a safe neighborhood, we are good people, homeowners, we pay taxes we follow the law. If this can happen to us, this can happen to every single person in the city and we need people to get involved and not see this as an issue that affects certain races," said Joy McCormack, mother.

Gatica has also been charged with first degree murder. His trial is expected to start this fall.

Valencia's family says he was headed for career in public service starting most likely with law school. In 2008 he travelled to Iowa to work for the Obama presidential campaign.

"He was the one I grew up with, he was in my everyday life and not having him there has been a big struggle for me," said Victor Valencia, brother.

Frankie's mother says he mentored young people through various programs in the city, telling them they could choose to lead productive lives. She laments that Valladares evidently did not get or heed such advice -- a failure she places squarely on the broader community.

"If someone had taken the time to save him…perhaps Frankie would be alive with us today," said McCormack.

Gatica's next court appearance is October 26. Valladares will be sentenced on November 3, nearly a year to the day Frankie Valencia died.

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