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updated: 8/26/2012 4:34 PM

Elgin man who can't hear or speak unfit for trial

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A 33-year-old Elgin man -- who cannot hear, speak or sign -- recently was ruled unfit to stand trial on charges he attacked a woman near an Elgin bike path last spring.

Miguel Gonzalez-Moreno, of the 400 block of Lawrence Avenue, has been placed in the custody of the Illinois Department of Human Services, and authorities have a year to help him understand the legal process and communicate with his defense attorney.

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Moreno is accused of attacking a woman in the late afternoon of March 11 in the 600 block of Wellington Avenue on the city's near east side.

He faces two counts of criminal sexual assault and one count of criminal sexual abuse. If convicted of the most severe charges, Moreno faces up to 15 years in prison.

Court hearings for Moreno have required a sign language interpreter, a pantomime interpreter, and visual aides, including an easel, iPad, dry erase board and Barbie and Ken dolls.

Kane County Judge Clint Hull in May ruled that Moreno was fit for trial and could assist in his own defense.

But that view changed in July after defense attorney D.J. Tegeler filed a motion to reduce his client's $750,000 bail and called Moreno as a witness.

"It became very evident to me and everybody else that he did not understand the oath (to tell the truth)," Tegeler said.

Tegeler said Moreno didn't understand the roles of his defense attorney nor Hull.

"He knew what a clock was and the time," Tegeler said. "Black and white things, he knows. Legal concepts, he doesn't. We'll see within a year if he can learn and assist in his defense."

Moreno is next due in court Sept. 21 for an update on his progress.

Congrats in McHenry: McHenry County Sheriff's Deputy Eric Woods recently was awarded the Illinois County Sheriff's Award "Looking Beyond the Safety Belt." Woods was honored last week at the Traffic Safety Awards Breakfast at the Illinois Police and Security Expo in Tinley Park.

Woods conducted a traffic stop on April 13 for a driver who was not wearing his seat belt. Woods found two kilograms of cocaine during a search of the vehicle.

"The award Deputy Woods received is just one example of the hard work the men and women of the McHenry County Sheriff's Office perform each and every day," Sheriff Keith Nygren said in a statement.

The Illinois Traffic Safety Challenge is coordinated by the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police Traffic Committee.

The Looking Beyond the Safety Belt award was established to recognize officers whose observations during a traffic stop result in an arrest or discovering evidence of a crime.

hhitzeman@dailyherald.com

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