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Aurora cold case murder trials to begin Monday

Jaime Diaz 33 formerly Aurorwas convicted January 2013 1998  murders BrendAndersGenevElias Calcano Aurora.

Jaime Diaz, 33, formerly of Aurora, was convicted in January 2013 in the 1998 murders of Brendon Anderson of Geneva and Elias Calcano of Aurora.

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Updated: February 28, 2013 6:51AM

In a rare occurrence, two Aurora cold case murder trials are scheduled to begin Monday in neighboring courtrooms at the Kane County Judicial Center. The trials involve double-murder cases stretching as far back as 1993.

Jaime Diaz, 35, is charged in the 1998 shooting deaths of Brendon Anderson and Elias Calcano, while 40-year-old Michael J. Reyes is accused of shooting to death Francisco and Jesus Montoya in March 1993.

Both men have opted to be tried by a jury, according to the Kane County state’s attorney’s office. Jury selection is to begin Monday.

Without elaborating, Kane County Sheriff’s Lt. Pat Gengler said there will be “more of a deputy presence than normal” at the courthouse because of the trial schedule.

Both cases sat unsolved for several years.

Reyes was arrested as part of the massive “Operation First Degree Burn” effort in 2007 that led to indictments against 31 people involved in 22 Aurora murders, all suspected to be tied to the Latin Kings street gang.

Reyes, last of the 900 block of Solfisburg Avenue, and a second man, Abraham Estremera, were charged with the execution-style shootings of the Montoya brothers, who were found dead in a van on Spencer Street. Prosecutors dropped murder charges against Estremera in 2008, but he remains in federal prison serving a life sentence on drug and weapons convictions.

Reyes is currently serving a 37-year prison sentence for an attempted murder conviction stemming from a 2006 shooting in Aurora.

Prosecutors charged Diaz in 2008 with the murders of Anderson, a Geneva native, and Calcano, of Aurora. Diaz is accused of shooting both in the head and dousing them with gasoline. Their bodies were found in an alley on Aurora’s East Side in March 1998. Police previously said the shootings were either drug- or gang-related.

Diaz’s defense recently filed motions seeking to bar prosecutors from introducing evidence at trial relating to DNA results, Diaz’s plans to set fire to the crime scene and his prior convictions, according to court records.

Diaz has previously served prison time for drunken driving, fleeing from police, mob action and receiving a stolen motor vehicle, according to Illinois Department of Corrections records. He has been held in the Kane County Jail since 2010.

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