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updated: 4/20/2011 9:28 PM

Aurora woman might ask for bench trial

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A 26-year-old woman accused of killing two St. Charles motorcyclists in a May 2009 crash could ask a judge instead of a jury to hear her case.

The attorney for Alia Bernard, of the 1500 block of Galena Boulevard, Aurora, says his client is still deciding whether to have Judge Allen Anderson or a panel of 12 decide her fate in the reckless homicide trial scheduled for June 13.

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Bernard also is charged with driving under the influence in the crash that killed Wade and Denise Thomas and injured 12 others off Route 47 near Elburn.

Wade Thomas' mother, Vivian, has said authorities have told her that Bernard was "texting close to (the time of) or during the crash."

Bernard was indicted in May 2010 and she is free on $5,000 bond.

Bernard's defense attorney, Bruce Brandwein, argued that Anderson should split the reckless homicide case from the DUI case.

He said a DUI charge could prejudice a jury against Bernard, who was found with cannabis in her system.

Anderson disagreed. "Essentially I'm being asked to sanitize what the facts may or may not have been," he said. "I don't think it rises to the level that would deny the defendant a fair trial."

The case has drawn attention not only from motorcycle clubs but anti-distracted driving activists as well.

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