UPDATE: Jury Says Brandon Sago Guilty on All Counts

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ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- The verdict is in... A jury finds Brandon Sago guilty on all counts, including First Degree Murder in the shooting death of his cousin Michael Sago Jr.

After four hours behind closed doors the jury says Brandon Sago is not only guilty of murder but also guilty of Conspiracy, Mob Action, and Attempted Armed Robbery.

Brandon Sago didn't show any emotion as Judge Gary Pumilia read the jury's decision. They decided Brandon Sago is responsible for Michael Sago Jr.'s death, even though he didn't pull the trigger.

The men along with Lamar Coates and Desmond Bellmon attempted to rob Marie's Pizza back in October 2011. Prosecutors claim that set off a chain of events, ending with Winnebago County Sheriff's Deputy Frank Pobjecky shooting each suspect and killing Michael Sago Jr. The defense argues Brandon Sago did commit a crime but it wasn't murder.

Defense attorneys didn't want to go on camera but they tell 23 News they will appeal. Brandon Sago could face more than 70 years in prison. Sentencing is scheduled for December 27.

Meantime, Desmond Bellmon pled guilty to murder last month, he's expected to be sentenced next week. Lamar Coates has already been sentenced to 40 years in prison.

Deputy Pobjecky was cleared of any wrongdoing by the Stateline Integrity Task Force.



UPDATE: The jury has reached the verdict that Brandon Sago is guilty on all counts.

We will have the very latest tonight on the 23 News Update at 10.


UPDATE: We've just learned that the jury in the Marie’s Pizza shooting murder trial has reached a verdict.

We will keep you updated as we learn more and will have the very latest tonight on 23 News at 10.


ROCKFORD (WIFR) – Closing arguments just wrapped up in the murder trial surrounding the deadly Marie’s Pizza shooting in 2011. Brandon Sago is charged with the death of his cousin Michael Sago who has shot by an off duty sheriff’s deputy.

Right now, the case is all in the hands of the jury right now. They’ll have to decide whether Brandon Sago is responsible for his cousin’s death after the Sago’s, along with Desmond Bellmon and Lamar Coates attempted to rob the pizzeria.


UPDATE: ROCKFORD (WIFR) – We’re hearing for the first time from one of the suspects involved in the fatal Marie’s Pizza shooting, Desmond Bellmon. He testified against his friend Brandon Sago who’s charged with the murder of his cousin, Michael Sago Jr.

Michael was shot and killed by an off-duty Sheriff’s Deputy in 2011.

All eyes are on Desmond Bellmon, a key witness in the trial. He described the events leading up to the robbery, saying that he along with Lamar Coates, Michael Sago Jr. and Brandon Sago were talking about how they needed money and decided to commit a robbery. Bellmon seemed apologetic on the stand, saying he and his friends made a mistake that he regrets every day.

Earlier today we also heard testimony from Frank Pobjecky. He says after Lamar Coates pointed a gun at his face, he didn't’t know if the other suspects had a weapon but defense argued Pobjecky never saw any of the other men pull out a gun while Pobjecky reached for Marie’s Pizza manager Vincenzo Tarara’s gun and started shooting.

Deputy Frank Pobjecky has already been cleared of any wrongdoing by the Winnebago County Integrity Task Force. As for Bellmon, he took the stand today as part of his plea deal. You may recall, he plead guilty to first-degree murder last month.

Bellmon is scheduled to be sentenced next week and Brandon Sago is due back in court tomorrow.


UPDATE: ROCKFORD (WIFR) – Today we heard heated testimony from a key witness during day two of the murder trial surrounding the deadly attempted armed robbery at Marie’s Pizza.

From gun struggles to surveillance footage, we heard from several people about the events leading up to the shooting and what happened to the suspects afterward.

One of those key witnesses was Vincenzo Tarara. He admits to having a gun in his restaurant that night, the same gun used by off-duty Sheriff’s Deputy Frank Pobjecky to shoot Lamar Coates, Desmond Bellmon, Brandon Sago, and Michael Sago Jr. Prosecutors used surveillance video to show Michael standing at the front door of the pizzeria as the “lookout.” The defense argued that by looking at the security video, although you can’t see any fight, Pobjecky shot each of the men as they attempted to run out of the pizza place.

We’re also supposed to hear from other key witnesses, Deputy Pobjecky and Desmond Bellmon.

Brandon Sago previously rejected a 25-year prison sentence. Meantime, Bellmon faces up to 60 years in prison and his sentencing is scheduled for next week.


UPDATE: ROCKFORD (WIFR) – Opening statements just started in the second murder trial surrounding the 2011 Marie’s Pizza shooting. You may remember, Brandon Sago is charged with the death of his cousin Michael.

Although Sago didn't’t fire the fatal shot, police say he’s still guilty of murder considering an off duty sheriff’s deputy killed the teen in an attempt to stop an armed robbery involving three other men.
Prosecutors have called their first witness and we also heard opening statements today. There were a lot of challenges before the trial started. Jury selection took a while considering a lot of jurors knew about this case.

Prosecutors argue that Brandon Sago is responsible for the death of his cousin Michael Sago Jr. claiming if Desmond Bellmon, Lamar Coates and Michael Sago Jr. hadn't’t attempted to rob Marie’s Pizza in October of 2011, that Sago wouldn't’t have been shot by an off-duty sheriff’s deputy. Defense attorneys argued Brandon Sago didn't’t pull the trigger, saying evidence will show Pobjecky shot and killed Michael Sago Jr.

We also heard from Andres Cristino, who is the cook at Marie’s Pizza. He says he thought he heard the men try to rob the place and he pulled the emergency alarm.
Desmond Bellmon pled guilty to murder last month and will be sentenced next week. Lamar Coates has been sentenced to 40 years for Sago Jr.’s murder.


ROCKFORD (WIFR) – The next installment of the Marie’s Pizza shooting trials will start in just a few weeks.

Court records show jury selection for Brandon Sago will begin on August 19th. Sago’s cousin Michael was killed by an off-duty sheriff’s deputy the night the men allegedly tried to rob a pizza joint in 2011.

Brandon is charged with Michael’s murder among other charges.


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