A Wayne man leaned on the mercy of a Kane County court Wednesday in pleading guilty to charges stemming from a booze-fueled crash that killed his 18-year-old passenger.
Onofrio J. Lorusso, 19, of the 4N800 block of Honey Hill Circle, entered cold pleas to one count of reckless homicide and three counts of aggravated driving under the influence in front of Judge Timothy Q. Sheldon.
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Lorusso faces up to 14 years in prison at sentencing on May 13. But his attorney hopes his client's age, admission of guilt and lack of criminal history will result in probation, which could be granted if the defense proves there are "extenuating circumstances."
"He's a kid we don't want to throw away," defense attorney Vince Solano said.
Lorusso was charged in the June 14, 2009, crash, which killed passenger Cameron Godee, 18, of West Chicago, after tests revealed a blood-alcohol level of 0.227, nearly three times the legal threshold for Illinois drivers of legal drinking age, and traces of marijuana in his system.
Prosecutors said Lorusso was driving 77 mph in a 25 mph zone on the 3100 block of Royal Fox Drive in St. Charles when his 2005 Ford Explorer went off the road on a slight curve, striking a mailbox, two trees and a parked car. Godee died at the scene; two back seat passengers, ages 16 and 17, were seriously injured.
Assistant Kane County State's Attorney David Belshan said Lorusso was "combative" with police at the scene, and refused to help identify his passengers. "The defendant was not able to negotiate the curve in the street because of his excessive speed and intoxication," Belshan said.
The crash happened within days of Lorusso and Godee graduating from St. Charles East High School.
Solano said the teens had been "best friends" since grade school and were alone for several days at Godee's house, where no adults were present, before the crash. Since then, the families of all three passengers have filed suit against Lorusso.
Solano said "nobody feels worse" than his client.
"How do you live with that for the rest of your life?" he said. "You killed your best friend."
Some of Godee's relatives wept in court Wednesday as Lorusso entered his plea. They declined to comment afterward.
Though prosecutors sought to have Lorusso's bond revoked upon his conviction, the judge agreed to wait until April 30, after Lorusso has finished his current semester at Robert Morris College in Chicago, to take him into custody.