10-year sentence for DUI driver
- Photos (2)
A memorial was placed at the corner of Ogden Avenue and River Road in Naperville last June after motorcyclist Gerald Puglise was killed there in a crash prosecutors said was sparked by road rage.
Paul Michna/Daily Herald file photo
Convicted DUI driver Michael Moreno tearfully apologized Wednesday for killing a motorcyclist in Naperville and begged forgiveness from the victim's family.
"I have no one to blame but myself," the 33-year-old Plainfield man said.
DuPage County Judge George Bakalis sentenced Moreno to 10 years in prison for aggravated driving under the influence of drugs and aggravated leaving the scene of the June 2012 crash that killed 63-year-old Gerald Puglise of Lombard.
The victim's son, Matthew Puglise, said he was "somewhat disappointed" with the term but was relieved Moreno would be going to prison.
"Even if it would have been more, it's not going to bring my father back," he said.
Prosecutors said Moreno was in a "fog of rage" when he made an improper turn in front of Puglise's oncoming motorcycle while chasing another driver.
The crash on Ogden Avenue at River Road happened after Moreno got into a roadside spat with the other driver, who he believed cut him off in rush-hour traffic.
Afterward, he continued to follow the other vehicle.
In a voluntary statement Wednesday, Moreno insisted he wasn't pursuing anyone but rather was trying to flag down a police officer at the intersection.
"I thought these people had a gun," he said of the other motorist and her passenger.
Moreno, who admitted smoking marijuana the morning before the crash and had traces of cocaine in his system, begged the Puglise family to "find forgiveness in your hearts."
"I wish I could have done things differently, and I'm truly sorry," he said, wiping away tears.
Assistant State's Attorney Joe Lindt sought a 20-year term for Moreno, who has four prior felony convictions for offenses ranging from tampering with a witness to robbery.
Lindt said Moreno, who also has a history of traffic offenses, was "on a path of destruction" when he left Puglise to die "in a pool of blood in the intersection."
"The defendant's conduct was egregious and cost the life of another person," he said.
But defense attorney Paul DeLuca argued Moreno — a single father of two at the time of the crash — was "truly remorseful" and still has "a lot of good he can do."
"He knows the pain that he has caused the victim's family," DeLuca said, asking for probation or a minimum, seven-year prison term. "He will live with this for the rest of his life."
The judge said he considered Moreno's "fairly long" criminal and traffic history, along with his efforts to raise two sons, in determining the sentence.
Bakalis said he believed Moreno was "completely oblivious to what was going on around him" during the crash but that he also was truly remorseful.
"Everyone lost something in this tragic situation," he said.
Moreno's mother, Liz Moreno, said outside of court her son is "by no means a monster."
"If he knew in his heart of hearts there was a man laying dead there, he would have stopped," she said, offering her condolences to the Puglise family.
Relatives described Gerald Puglise as a loving family man and motorcycle enthusiast who battled cancer for years but had shown improvement shortly before the crash.
"There is now an enormous void in our lives that will never be filled," Matthew Puglise said.
He and his brother, Aldo Datoli, said it would be difficult to forgive Moreno.
"I think I could forgive him someday, (but) not today," Datoli said.
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