Man gets 40 years for Aurora murder, where he thought victim was in rival gang

An Aurora man has been sentenced to 40 years in prison for the murder of a man authorities say he suspected was in a rival gang.

Cesar Ponce, 20, of the 500 block of East Downer Place, will have to serve 100% of the sentence before being eligible for parole. He received credit for the two years he has spent in the Kane County jail awaiting trial.

Kane County Judge David Kliment announced the sentence on May 26.

A jury convicted Ponce of first-degree murder in March.

Authorities alleged that around 7:30 p.m. on May 24, 2021, Ponce and two other members of the same street gang searched for rival gang members. Co-defendant Fidel Bello had a revolver.

While walking through a rival gang’s territory, they saw people outside of a house. Ponce pointed them out, including 46-year-old Samuel Ortiz-Rodriguez.

Bello then shot and killed Ortiz-Rodriguez.

The man was not in a gang, prosecutors said.

On the first day of Ponce’s sentencing hearing, the mother of Ortiz-Rodriguez’s girlfriend testified that she believed the stress of losing Ortiz-Rodriguez and preparing to testify at Ponce’s trial may have contributed to a fatal brain aneurysm her daughter sustained right before the trial began. The two had been involved for about 20 years and had a son, now 16.

“How dare you kill people. You don’t own the streets, buddy. The taxpayers in our country own the streets,” she said. You are run by Satan, and you are infested by Satan.”

Bello, 19, of the 300 block of Sheldon Avenue in Aurora, pleaded guilty in April to first-degree murder and is scheduled to be sentenced July 20. He could be sentenced to as little as 20 years or as much as life in prison.


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