Prosecutors refuse closed conference in reckless homicide case
By Jim Newton firstname.lastname@example.org | @JimNewton5 January 23, 2014 7:14PM
Carly Rousso, 18, of Highland Park, stands in the courtroom of Judge James K. Booras June 11, 2013. | Stacey Wescott/Chicago Tribune file
Updated: February 25, 2014 6:25AM
An attorney for Carly Rousso reiterated this week that Rousso is willing to plead guilty to reckless homicide in the death of 5-year-old Jaclyn Santos of Highwood, and that it is “highly unusual” that prosecutors won’t conference on the matter.
Rousso, 19, of Highland Park, is charged with aggravated DUI and reckless homicide for allegedly running over Santos on Central Avenue in downtown Highland Park on Labor Day 2012 after inhaling or “huffing” a chemical agent.
She has pleaded not guilty and has been free on bail after her family posted a $500,000 bond.
Rousso was in court Wednesday and Zeit said he is seeking a closed conference between himself, assistant state’s attorneys handling the case and a Lake County Circuit Court judge to discuss a resolution to the case in which Rousso would plead guilty to reckless homicide and leave open the sentencing range subsequently imposed by the judge.
Prosecutors have refused to participate in such a conference Zeit said, and he called that “highly unusual” when viewing the history of past similar cases.
He said the sentencing range for reckless homicide is severe, but not as severe as the range for the aggravated DUI resulting in the death charge she is facing. Prosecutors have not commented on the possibility of plea-deal negotiations.
The next pretrial hearing for Rousso is Feb. 19, for status on a defense motion filed by Zeit to dismiss charges against Rousso.
Zeit has said that the statute Rousso was charged under is vague and he has filed a motion to dismiss the charges against her on those grounds. He said difluoreothane, a computer cleaning agent Rousso is alleged to have inhaled, is not specifically mentioned in the statute.
If convicted of the criminal charges she currently faces, Rousso could spend up to 14 years in prison.
In a civil case the family of Santos filed against Rousso, a settlement has already been reached; details have not been released to the public.
Jaclyn Santos was walking with her mother and two siblings on a downtown sidewalk when she was run over by a car driven by Rousso.