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posted: 3/19/2012 8:40 PM

Aurora woman who killed 2 in crash seeks reduced sentence

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  • Wade and Denise Thomas of St. Charles

      Wade and Denise Thomas of St. Charles

  • This is the scene of a crash that killed two and involved six motorcycles and three cars on Route 47 just north of Smith Road between Elburn and Sugar Grove on May 23, 2009.

       This is the scene of a crash that killed two and involved six motorcycles and three cars on Route 47 just north of Smith Road between Elburn and Sugar Grove on May 23, 2009.
    LAURA STOECKER | Staff Photographer

  • Alia Bernard

      Alia Bernard


The attorney for an Aurora woman sent to prison for causing a May 2009 crash that killed a St. Charles couple and injured 12 others riding motorcycles will ask a judge this week to reconsider her sentence in favor of boot camp or at least slice a year off her seven-year term.

Last month, Kane County Judge Allen Anderson issued the prison term to Alia Bernard, 27, of the 1500 block of West Galena Road, after she pleaded guilty to aggravated DUI in the deaths of Wade and Denise Thomas on May 23, 2009, on Route 47 just north of Smith Road.

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Twelve other motorcyclists in a pack headed to Wisconsin on a Saturday were injured -- including one man who was left paralyzed.

Last month, defense attorney Bruce Brandwein and prosecutors agreed that Bernard was not high or drunk as the time of the crash. But under Illinois law, if a person has any amount of an illegal drug in their body and causes a crash, that person can be held criminally responsible.

Brandwein said Bernard smoked marijuana the Thursday before the crash, had no criminal record and should be given probation for "extraordinary circumstances" instead of a prison sentence of between six and 28 years.

In criminal cases, it is routine for defense attorneys to ask for new trials or reduced sentences after a jury or judge makes a decision.

It also is common for judges to deny these requests, most of the time without explanation.

"It's something I have to do to represent her," said Brandwein, who plans to appeal the sentence if Anderson doesn't change his mind. "There is always a possibility the judge will give her boot camp based on her lack of (criminal) background. We believe we've shown extraordinary circumstances to the judge and will ask the appellate court to review the sentencing record and see if they agree with us."

Brandwein also will argue Thursday before Anderson that Bernard, who is serving her sentence at downstate Dwight Correctional Center, should be resentenced because she did not have a drug and alcohol evaluation done to determine if she was a risk to reoffend prior to her sentencing date.

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