KANKAKEE — The fate of a Kankakee woman whose home has been targeted by Kankakee County and Kankakee City officials is now in the hands of Judge Bill Dickenson.
On Thursday, a hearing continued in a civil lawsuit declaring Irene Guzman’s home at 456 S. Lincoln Ave. is a chronic nuisance.
Alleging the home has ties to the Latin Kings gang, prosecutors are requesting a temporary injunction that would have the residence vacated and shuttered for one year. The lawsuit argues that Guzman’s sons Hernan and Ruben Carmona have ties with the gang, according to court records.
Guzman’s attorney, Eric Davis, argued Thursday that the prosecution had not met its burden of proof in the case. He said that Guzman has not been involved in several shootings that have occurred in the 400 block of South Lincoln.
In fact, he argued, Guzman’s house has been hit by gunfire.
“She has been a victim,” Davis said. “If you’re a victim, you cannot be held liable for this or liable for things that happened off her property.”
Before closing arguments, Davis had three witnesses testify. All three live in the same block as Guzman’s residence.
One witness was sitting on the porch of a nearby house when shooting occurred on Sept. 16, 2019, that endangered students on a school bus. That day, an Illinois Central School bus preparing to stop and let Kankakee school district students off was on the block when a rival gang member, Thomas Rebmann Jr., fired shots at the Guzman home with several people in the front yard, according to court records.
The witness said she saw Rebmann fire the shots and get back in the car that sped off. She testified that she did not see Ruben Carmona return fire.
The witness said they did not talk to the police and that police did not attempt to speak to her.
Both Rebmann and Carmona have been arrested and charged with aggravated discharge of a firearm in the incident.
Another witness testified seeing two men shoot at a car Rueben Carmona was in on Dec. 2, 2019. After the shooting, Carmona walked into Guzman’s house.
Kankakee County Assistant State’s Attorney Jonathan Watson argued the state had made its case by showing that there were several shootings that occurred in the block that were targeting Guzman’s home.
“We have heard testimony that the hierarchy of the Latin Kings in Kankakee has used the house, including holding meetings in the garage,” Watson said of testimony presented in court on Oct. 1. “We had an officer testify this home is considered the epicenter for the Latin Kings.”
City and county nuisance abatement ordinances allow for the closing of a house deemed a chronic public nuisance by a judge.
The city’s code enforcement department can deem a residence uninhabitable. If that happens, the owner must bring the building up to code as well as pay any outstanding fines, fees and taxes in order to allow people to live in the home again.
The judge’s decision is expected to come Oct. 22.