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updated: 2/22/2013 9:23 AM

Prosecutors: Rage fueled fatal Naperville crash

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  • Michael Moreno

      Michael Moreno

  • The intersection of Ogden Avenue and River Road in Naperville hosted a small memorial where Gerald Puglise of Lombard was killed last June.

      The intersection of Ogden Avenue and River Road in Naperville hosted a small memorial where Gerald Puglise of Lombard was killed last June.
    Paul Michna/Daily Herald file photo

 

Michael Moreno was so enraged about a rush-hour traffic spat that he killed an unsuspecting motorcyclist while trying to chase down another driver, prosecutors alleged at his bench trial Thursday.

But Moreno's attorney says the cause of the crash is in dispute and eyewitnesses gave conflicting accounts.

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The 32-year-old Plainfield man faces charges of aggravated DUI, aggravated reckless driving, and leaving the scene of the June 13, 2012, crash that killed Gerald Puglise, 63, of Lombard.

Puglise died of massive head injuries after his motorcycle plowed into Moreno's Infiniti M45 on Ogden Avenue at River Road in Naperville. Moreno turned in front of the victim, who had the right of way, because he was "hellbent" on catching a 16-year-old girl he believed cut him off in traffic, Assistant State's Attorney Joe Lindt said in opening statements.

"He bulldozed through the intersection -- no matter who or what was in his way," Lindt told DuPage County Judge George Bakalis.

After the crash, Moreno frantically flagged down a police officer and led him on a brief, erratic pursuit, the officer testified. They ended up in a nearby strip mall, where Moreno pointed out the teen driver and claimed a man riding in her Honda pulled a gun on him moments earlier.

No gun was recovered -- but police said they found marijuana in Moreno's car. His blood later tested positive for traces of both cannabis and cocaine, a forensics expert testified.

"His driving and his driving alone caused Gerry's injuries," Lindt said. "The victim was just doing what he loved to do: riding a motorcycle."

But defense attorney Paul DeLuca contended evidence shows there "very well may have been" a gun and that the victim had just left a bar and was driving impaired.

"There's an issue as to who caused the collision," he said in opening statements, adding his client "didn't fully realize" what happened when he continued after the Honda to photograph it.

DeLuca said several eyewitnesses gave conflicting details of the accident and Moreno might take the stand to tell his own account.

"It's not quite as simple as the state suggested," he said.

Moreno remains jailed on $500,000 bail. His trial resumes Friday but isn't expected to start up again after that for several weeks.

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