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Crime & Courts

Man convicted in 1994 slaying of Plano woman seeks clemency

Relative: State board to make recommendation to governor within 3 months

Aaron Fillmore, convicted in the 1994 slaying of a Plano woman, is seeking clemency.

Fillmore was convicted in 1995 of the June 19, 1994, murder of Antonia "Toni" Cavazos, 42, of the 700 block of South Street in Plano when he was 19 years old.

According to Shaw Media archives, Cavazos was visiting a home in the 500 block of Latham Street in Sandwich when Fillmore fired shots into the home at 9:52 p.m. One of the bullets struck Cavazos in the head, according to newspaper reports.

FIllmore was arrested at his parents' home in the 1800 block of Irene Road in Lake Holiday, just down the street from his own home, shortly after midnight two days after Cavazos' killing, according to Record archives.

Fillmore, now 43, currently resides at the Lawrence Correctional Center in downstate Sumner. He is serving a 60-year sentence for first-degree murder and a 15-year sentence for aggravated discharge of a firearm connected to the murder, according to Illinois Department of Corrections records.

Fillmore received another 20-year sentence in 1999 for felony armed violence in Will County court after an incident where he was charged with aggravated battery against a police officer while incarcerated, according to Will County court records.

According to IDOC records, his projected parole date is May 21, 2035, and his projected release date is May 21, 2038.

Fillmore's case was heard by the Illinois Prisoner Review Board Thursday morning, and the board has 90 days to submit its recommendation to the governor, according to Cavazos' sister, Ortencia Cavazos Gonzalez. Cavazos Gonzalez said the governor has a year to make his decision after receiving the board's recommendation.

Illinois Prisoner Review Board spokesperson Jason Sweat did not respond to a message asking him about the case Thursday.

Cavazos Gonzalez thanked local officials who attended Thursday's hearing and spoke on behalf of her family, including Plano Mayor Bob Hausler, Plano Police Chief Jonathan Whowell, DeKalb County State's Attorney Rick Amato and Sandwich Mayor Rick Olson. Olson was the city's police chief at the time of the murder, having only been on the job six weeks.

"The testimony by the Cavazos family was very heartfelt and very well done," Olson said. "Her daughter spoke and did an incredible job ... it was good, the information was passed along."

Olson said the board chairman "made some statements about Mr. Fillmore's issues that he's had since he's been in prison."

"Doesn't sound like things are going very well for him and he still, as of 2014, had some gang affiliation in prison," Olson said of Fillmore. "That's where I was at, talking about his gang ties and his lack of a remorseful attitude toward the whole situation."

Olson said while he had more than 20 years of experience before being hired as the Sandwich chief, he was new to the town.

"I was brand new to this town, I didn't know a lot of the people, sometimes didn't know the good guys from the bad guys," he said. "My police department were young, enthusiastic officers but really hadn't had a lot of experience with something like this."

Olson said there was a "countless number of law enforcement agencies that assisted us, and we were able to put the whole case together."

"We kind of knew who was involved; it was just a question of being able to prove it to a jury," he said.

Olson said Fillmore had received letters of support from his family, but no one advocated for him in person during the PRB hearing.

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