Earlier this summer, a Riverdale resident pleaded guilty to misdemeanor drunk driving in a deadly crash that killed a pedestrian over 10 years ago. The case was among Cook County’s longest-stalled prosecutions. The Illinois DUI crash occurred in 2007.
The defendant was originally charged with reckless homicide and aggravated DUI, which carried up to 14 years of incarceration. The 39-year-old man was instead sentenced to two years of probation in a plea deal that took 10 years to finalize. The case lasted through the tenures of three separate state attorneys. Current State Attorney Kim Foxx said in a statement that the delays were “unacceptable.” She pledged to ensure these situations do not recur.
The victim was killed in January 2007 after the defendant’s vehicle struck him while he was walking on the street in Harvey, Illinois. The victim, 41, was hit so hard that it took several minutes before his body was located, and it was almost 10 hours before his foot was found by police in a yard near the crash.
The victim’s sister said she attended almost every one of the over 100 court hearings since the case started. As she left the court for the final time on Tuesday, she was upset with the plea agreement. She said that she knew, rationally, that nothing would bring her brother back. But for the defendant “to get a slap on the wrist” was “ridiculous.” She felt like she wasted 10 years of her life.
The sister was not permitted to make a victim impact statement during sentencing, but she said outside the courtroom that her brother was “a good guy.” She said she did not expect the defendant to go to prison, but she believes a felony conviction would have been more appropriate. “A misdemeanor for taking someone’s life?” she continued. “Justice was not served.”
The state attorney’s office said in a statement that the plea was the best outcome, given the facts and case law. It could not meet its burden, the statement read, to sustain felony charges. As the prosecutor read a statement describing the reduced misdemeanor charge at sentencing, there was no mention of the fact that the case involved a fatality. The defendant declined the chance to make a public statement in court.
The case went on for so long in part because the defense filed numerous pretrial motions challenging police procedures. These complex motions were mostly successful, meaning that much evidence was suppressed. The defendant’s attorney said that cases involving blood evidence typically take longer. This fact, coupled with scheduling conflicts and the police department’s delayed response to defense subpoenas, contributed to the unusual length of the case.
The defendant insisted that the victim, who had been out drinking at an engagement party prior to the crash, caused the incident when he recklessly stepped into traffic while crossing the street. A crash re-constructionist expert estimated the defendant’s speed at the time of the crash to be between 46 and 52 mph. At the hospital, blood test results revealed the defendant’s BAC to be .08 percent. Marijuana was also found in his system. The defendant and his passenger both initially denied being the driver.
The defendant declined comment as he left the courthouse, other than to say he was “ready to get on with his life.” The defendant, a father of four, had been out on bond for the entirety of the case. He has no prior criminal record and has not faced legal trouble since the crash, according to public records.
If you have been charged with a DUI offense in Illinois, it is crucial to speak to an experienced Illinois DUI lawyer as soon as possible. Harvatin Law Offices, PC provides knowledgeable representation to people in Springfield and throughout Illinois. We have considerable experience defending individuals charged with DUI offenses and representing drivers with revoked licenses before the Illinois Secretary of State. To learn more, and to set up a free initial consultation, contact us online or call us at 217.525.0520.
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New Law Enables Texans to Seal DUI Records, Illinois DUI Lawyer Blog, August 1, 2017.
Hawaii Supreme Court Holds a DUI Suspect May Not Be Preemptively Refused the Opportunity to Communicate with Counsel, Illinois DUI Lawyer Blog, July 3, 2017.
Illinois Appeals Court Upholds Ruling for DUI Defendant Based on Officer’s Unconvincing Testimony, Illinois DUI Lawyer Blog, June 5, 2017.