CHICAGO | A Chicago man convicted last month of manslaughter in the July 2011 shooting death of a Schererville woman was sentenced to four years in prison Tuesday.
In his ruling, Cook County Associate Judge James B. Linn described the incident that took the life of 26-year-old Holly Hieber as “unnecessary,” calling it a tragedy for both the victim’s family, as well as for the loved ones of the defendant, 19-year-old Osvaldo Salazar.
Linn found Salazar guilty in November of involuntary manslaughter, unlawful use of a weapon and concealment of a homicide.
The day’s ruling marked the end of a long search for justice by Hieber’s mother, Louise Hieber, who expressed the incredible toll placed upon her entire family as a result of Salazar’s actions, specifically to Hieber's father Fred, who died in May of a heart attack she said was caused by the stress of losing their only child.
“You put a bullet in my daughter’s head and you just as well put a bullet in my husband’s heart,” Hieber said. “Because they are both no longer with me.”
Hieber was shot July 10, 2011 while attending a party being held in Salazar’s garage. Prosecutors said Salazar brought out the gun to show it off, when it then fired, striking Hieber in the head. Salazar then tried to cover up what happened by hiding the gun and telling police Hieber was the victim of a drive-by shooting.
Salazar’s attorneys had contended the incident was accidental, even arguing for a dismissal of all charges at the beginning of the day’s proceedings on the basis the state had not provided any evidence to determine exactly who was holding the gun at the time when it discharged.
Linn denied the defense’s request to dismiss the guilty verdicts for manslaughter and unlawful use of a weapon, but did end up vacating the conviction on the concealment charge.
Salazar’s older brother, Angel Salazar, pled for leniency on his brother’s behalf, a sight that caused Osvaldo Salazar to break down and sob.
Linn denied the request for probation, as well as a plea to place Salazar in a prison boot camp for first-time offenders, citing the gravity of the case.
Before he was sentenced, Salazar apologized to Hieber's family and asking them for their forgiveness.
“I wish I never seen that gun in my life,” Salazar said. “I hope you can forgive me someday. I am very sorry.”
After the hearing, Hieber's uncle Ray Rasznewski said he was relieved the case had concluded, and felt that the judge’s ruling was fair.
“As a relative, nothing is enough time,” Rasznewski said. “But I do believe justice has been done.”