UPDATE: Anaya sentenced to 50 years

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WINNEBAGO COUNTY (WIFR) -- He was described a peacemaker, a good man, shot and killed while driving away from a fight he broke up. Now Brandon Wright's killer will spend the next 50 years in prison. The sentence for Luis Anaya, just five years more than the minimum, is shocking for Wright’s family.

"I have no son no more. I don't have anybody I can talk to. I don't have anybody that I can play catch with, I don't know what type of father Brandon would have been. All that has been taken away from not only me, my wife, and my family," Donald Wright, Brandon’s father, said.

An emotional day for Wright's family as they learned the man who killed the 23-year-old would spend 50 years in prison for his murder. Luis Anaya shot Wright in the head in November 2011 as they drove on Perryville near Linden Road.

"My son didn't do anything to him, yet you killed my son? The many hours we spent grooming this person. He fled, he ran, coward," Donald said, talking directly to Anaya while testifying in court.

Anaya went to Mexico. He was finally arrested in 2015 by the FBI; the agency Wright once had hopes of joining.

"The value of his life and the potential ways in which he might have served others is incalculable," Judge Joseph McGraw, said during sentencing.

Judge McGraw described Wright at a peacekeeper, breaking up a fight between his friend and Anaya at Murphy's Pub just before his death. Prosecutors say the shooting was a case of mistaken identity, asking for a harsh sentence.

"Our community simply won't tolerate this anymore, people discharging firearms, people killing other people, people shooting at other people, the message has to be clear," Prosecutor Wendy Larson, said.

Apologizing to Wright's family, Anaya's sister Elise said her family is losing a loved one too.

"He is a great person, he was going to school at the time and everything and trying, doing the right steps, don't know what happened, but he's not a bad person," she said.

"I don't think in any way he intended to shoot anyone. I think he was showing off or he was shooting the gun out the window in the direction of these people," Frank Edwards, Anaya’s defense attorney, said.

Intentional or not, Wright's family now tries to move on while remembering the young man with big hopes and dreams whose life was cut short.

"Brandon was my legacy. He loved to serve people," Wright’s father said.

Anaya chose not to speak in court and address Wright's family. Wright's father Donald says as Anaya was walking out of the courtroom he looked him in the eye and saw no compassion.

Anaya faced up to life in prison. The minimum was 45 years. Defense Attorney Frank Edwards says he's filing an appeal for the murder conviction.


Updated: April 17, 2017

UPDATE: ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) -- Luis Anaya is sentenced to 50 years.

He appeared in court Monday morning.

Anaya's defense attorney says they plan on appealing.


Updated: January 11, 2017

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) – A jury has found Luis Anaya guilty of first degree murder.

Anaya was accused of killing 23-year-old Brandon Wright in 2011. A sentencing date for Anaya has been set for March 6, 2017.

We will have a full report on this tonight on 23 News at 10.


Updated: January 11, 2017

UPDATE: ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) – Closing arguments wrapped up this afternoon in the Luis Anaya murder trial where the defense rested after calling no witnesses of their own.

Anaya is charged with first degree murder and aggravated discharge of a weapon.

Prosecution kept reiterating actions speak louder than words and if Anaya was innocent, then why did he flee.

Luis Anaya is charged with first degree aggravated discharge of a weapon. He is accused of killing 23-year-old Brandon Wright back in 2011. Investigators believe Anaya shot Wright in his vehicle at the intersection of Perryville and Linden Roads after an argument at Murphy’s Pub.
Anaya was finally arrested in Mexico four years later.

"My client was in the back seat of that car asleep. He didn't know what happened. When he woke up, he panicked. He found out what happened he took off. He made a mistake. He's young, but that doesn't make him a murderer,” says Defense Attorney Frank Edwards.

“Luis Anaya didn’t have to say a thing. When he vanished clearly knowing the police wanted to talk to him about the murder of Brandon Wright, he as good as confessed,” says Prosecutor Wendy Larson.

Prosecutors also asked why someone who is innocent would hide.

We will continue to update you as soon as a verdict is reached.

Updated: January 10, 2017

ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- He was an unintended target, not supposed to die, but prosecutors say because of a case of mistaken identity a young man's life was cut short, shot in the head while driving in November 2011.

The trial for Luis Anaya started Tuesday. He's accused of killing Brandon Wright as they were driving on Perryville near Linden Road. The chilling 911 call was played for jurors.

Experts say the bullet went through the back window, hitting Wright in the head killing him almost instantly. Anaya, prosecutors say was the shooter. They say Wright was out at Murphy’s Pub with friends when his buddy got into a fight with Anaya. When Wright and his friends left in separate cars prosecutors say Anaya and his friends followed in one car. They believe Anaya mistook Wright for the friend involved in the fight.

While on the stand Wright's mother recalled the moment sheriff's deputies told her that her only son was shot and killed.

"Then I replied, so my son's not coming home? And he says, Mrs. Wright, I’m sorry, Brandon won't be coming home," Rosemary Wright testified.

Defense attorneys say Anaya wasn't the shooter and say there is no evidence to prove it. A gun was never recovered, but they say Anaya’s friend who was also in the car had recently bought a gun. The defense is pointing the finger at that man.

Prosecutors have a few more witnesses to call on Wednesday. The defense says it doesn't have any witnesses so closing statements should happen by Wednesday afternoon.

Posted: January 9, 2017

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) – After allegedly spending years on the run in Mexico, a murder trial begins for a man accused of shooting and killing a Rockford man.

Luis Anaya is accused of killing 23-year-old Brandon Wright back in 2011. Investigators believe Anaya shot wright in his vehicle at the intersection of Perryville and Linden Roads after the two got into an argument at the bar.

Anaya was finally arrested in Mexico four years later. Eight people have been chosen for jury duty so far.