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Article posted: 1/24/2013 5:25 PM

7-year term in fatal Sugar Grove DUI

By Harry Hitzeman

A 48-year-old former Elburn woman was sentenced to seven years in prison Thursday after she pleaded guilty to aggravated DUI and causing the death of a 54-year-old man in a Sugar Grove crash in 2009.

Linda Knotts, who now lives in Aurora, remains free on bond and will begin serving her sentence Wednesday.

According to prosecutors, Knotts had cocaine in her system when she was driving at an estimated 73 mph in a 55 mph zone south on Route 47 near Harter Road on March 20, 2009.

She was charged with being under the influence when she caused a head-on collision with William McKenzie, 54, of Marengo, who later died from his injuries.

Before the crash, other drivers had called authorities to report that a yellow pickup truck -- the Chevy S10 that belonged to Knotts -- was driving erratically at high speeds while passing vehicles.

"It remains the priority of this office to aggressively prosecute DUI cases. This crash was clearly preventable, the result of this defendant's reckless and dangerous driving with cocaine in her blood," Kane County State's Attorney Joe McMahon said. "Mr. McKenzie's death was nothing short of tragic."

Knotts was indicted and arrested in summer 2010 and was set to go to trial in April. As part of the plea agreement, prosecutors dropped other charges, including possession of a controlled substance and reckless homicide. Judge James Hallock accepted the plea.

Knotts' defense attorney, Fred Morelli, declined to comment when reached by phone Thursday.

The crash was Knotts' first DUI in Kane County, but she had previous run-ins for drugs, according to court records. She got two years probation and was fined $2,285 after pleading guilty to felony cocaine possession in August 1999, records show. She also got a year of probation and a $750 fine after a March 2000 arrest in Aurora for misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia. She also had numerous tickets for speeding, driving while her license was suspended and no insurance.

Knotts must serve 85 percent of the prison term, or just less than six years. She also will get credit for about a month she spent at the Kane County jail while her case was pending.

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