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Article updated: 8/1/2013 12:08 PM

Arraignment delayed for Antioch teen in fatal street racing crash

By Lee Filas

The arraignment hearing for an Antioch Township teen accused of killing a teenage girl in a June street racing crash has been delayed until Sept. 25, authorities said Thursday.

Jeremy Betancourt, 17, of the 41000 block of North Circle Drive in unincorporated Lake County near Antioch, was expected to plead not guilty to aggravated DUI and aggravated street racing in Lake County court. However, Betancourt was not in court after checking himself into a Streamwood behavioral health center nearly two weeks ago for depression and chemical dependency, defense attorney Jed Stone said.

Stone said Betancourt would remain at the inpatient facility for the next month and was granted the new arraignment date in front of Lake County Judge John Phillips.

"This is a tragedy for everyone involved," Stone said following the hearing. "The family of Cynthia (Perez) has changed because they lost a daughter, but Mr. Betancourt's life has forever changed as well. There are no winners in this, only losers."

Betancourt remains free after posting 10 percent of $100,000 bail, but Judge Raymond Collins said Betancourt must remain in treatment at the Streamwood behavioral health facility.

Betancourt was found to have marijuana in his system after the June 24 street race crash on Route 120, about a quarter-mile east of Hunt Club Road in Gurnee, authorities said.

Witnesses told police Betancourt's Honda was driving erratically before it slid into the center median ditch between the eastbound and westbound lanes, went airborne and rolled over.

Back seat passenger Cynthia Perez, 16, of Antioch, was not wearing a seat belt when the car rolled over. She was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash.

Betancourt and two other teens were taken to Advocate Condell Medical Center with injuries that were not life-threatening, authorities said.

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

The driver of the second car -- Michael Dawson, 19, of the 400 block of Filweber Court in Antioch -- was charged with aggravated street racing and operating a vehicle with an expired registration after the crash. He remains held in Lake County jail in lieu of $250,000 bail.

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