Highland Park man found guilty in shooting death of Colin Nutter

Almost four years after Colin Nutter was shot to death in his own car, an acquaintance who was 17 at the time has been found guilty in the slaying.

Lake County Judge Victoria Rossetti ruled Friday that Philip Vatamaniuc, now 21, is guilty of first-degree murder in the killing of the 20-year-old Highland Park man.

Vatamaniuc was one of three people who authorities said made arrangement to buy marijuana from Nutter in 2013 but secretly planned to rob him. Then those three decided to shoot Nutter so they could steal his car, too, authorities said.

Much of the four-day trial centered around whether it was Vatamaniuc or one of the other two suspects, Benjamin Schenk, who fired the weapon.

Ultimately, Rossetti said she could not determine that Vatamaniuc was the shooter but indicated there was still enough evidence to find him guilty of murder.

After first denying any involvement, Vatamaniuc had told authorities early on that Schenk, then 20, was the one who pulled the trigger on Nutter while his car was parked in a dead-end street near the border of Highland Park and Highwood.

Schenk, who pleaded guilty to murder in Nutter’s death, testified that Vatamaniuc was the gunman.

Vatamaniuc now faces 35 to 75 years in prison when he’s sentenced at a later date.

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