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updated: 7/16/2013 7:14 PM

Antioch teen charged in fatal racing crash remains free on $100,000 bail

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  • Jeremy A. Betancourt

      Jeremy A. Betancourt

 
 

Despite a second attempt to increase bail, it will remain the same for a 17-year-old Antioch Township boy charged with aggravated DUI in the death of a teenage girl during a street race in Gurnee last month.

Lake County Judge Raymond Collins said Jeremy Betancourt can remain free on $100,000 bail but said it will be reviewed again when the former Antioch High School student completes treatment at a Streamwood behavioral health facility.

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Defense attorney Jed Stone said Betancourt was freed from Lake County jail Friday after posting 10 percent of the $100,000. But, per the bail request, Stone said Betancourt immediately checked himself into the behavioral health facility for treatment at 3 a.m. Saturday.

"Our main concern is that a boy with a history of depression and poly-substance abuse is being held responsible for the death of a friend and injuring another," Stone said after the hearing. "It's important that he be given the proper care and treatment he needs."

Lake County Assistant State's Attorney Ken LaRue requested the second bail review for Betancourt on Tuesday after Collins decided to lower Betancourt's bail from $250,000 to $100,000 last week despite additional charges being filed against him.

Betancourt, of the 41000 block of North Circle Drive, had marijuana in his system when he was involved in a street race with Michael Dawson on Route 120 about a quarter-mile east of Hunt Club Road in Gurnee on June 24, authorities said. Betancourt's Honda was driving erratically, witnesses told police, before it slid into the center median ditch between the eastbound and westbound lanes, went airborne and rolled over.

Cynthia Perez, 16, of Antioch was in the back seat with her boyfriend, Gio Bustos, 20, when the car flipped over, authorities said. The two were not wearing seat belts and fell out of the rear window in the crash.

Betancourt, Bustos and another teen were taken to Advocate Condell Medical Center with injuries that were not life-threatening, authorities said. Perez was pronounced dead at the scene.

Betancourt was initially charged with reckless homicide, aggravated street racing, driving without a valid driver's license and operating an uninsured vehicle after the crash. An aggravated driving under the influence charge was added when lab tests came back positive for marijuana two weeks later.

"Bond was not set as a punishment," Collins explained Tuesday, adding the best place for Betancourt is in a hospital where he can be "evaluated."

However, Perez's mother, Hilda Hinkle, was outraged after Collins lowered Betancourt's bail last week, then again Tuesday when Collins refused to send Betancourt back to jail.

"He killed Cynthia ... and all (Collins) worries about is (Betancourt)," Hinkle said after Tuesday's hearing. "I don't call that justice."

Dawson, 19, of the 400 block of Filweber Court in Antioch, was also charged with aggravated street racing and operating a vehicle with an expired registration after the crash.

If found guilty of aggravated street racing, he could spend up to three years in prison, officials said.

Dawson remains in Lake County jail in lieu of $250,000 bail. A hearing on his case is scheduled July 22.

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