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posted: 8/6/2013 6:04 PM

Round Lake Park man sentenced to two years for death of friend

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  • Carlos Luna

      Carlos Luna

 
 

A Round Lake Park man was sentenced to two years in prison for killing a friend in a high-speed crash that started when a rival gang member hurled a landscaping brick through his windshield.

Carlos Luna, 24, of the 200 block of Brierhill Drive, was also sentenced to one year probation after pleading guilty to aggravated driving under the influence of drugs in the Round Lake Park crash more than two years ago.

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Luna was facing a maximum penalty of 12 years following the plea deal, prosecutors said.

Luna expressed remorse that the accident took the life of friend Rogelia Lopez, 18, of Round Lake Park. However, in court Tuesday, the 24-year-old man ultimately refused to take responsibility for the crash that killed Lopez on July 17, 2011.

"I feel really bad about what happened, about the accident," he said. "But, I feel the whole accident wasn't my fault."

Luna -- considered an associate gang member by police -- was driving five known gang members in a sport-utility vehicle when they got into an verbal argument with rivals in the 400 block of Highmoor Drive in Round Lake Park, authorities said.

After rocks were thrown at Luna's vehicle, he drove off and recklessly turned onto Clifton Drive, authorities said, then sped up to 55 mph.

That's when a landscaping brick was hurled through the SUV's front windshield, causing Luna to lose control of the SUV, hit a large boulder, and slam the vehicle into a tree at more than 45 mph, authorities said.

The force of the crash killed Lopez, authorities said, and injured four others.

Following the crash, Luna tested positive for marijuana and cocaine in his system. He was charged with three counts of reckless homicide, five counts of aggravated driving under the influence that resulted in death, and three counts of DUI.

Willie Davis Jr., 22, of Round Lake Park, was initially charged with first-degree murder for hurling the landscaping brick at the SUV. However, prosecutors accepted a plea agreement with Davis and reduced the charge to aggravated battery that caused bodily harm. He was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison.

While Lake County Judge Daniel Shanes acknowledged it was the landscaping brick that ultimately caused the crash, he said Luna's reckless decision to drive in front of the home of rival gang members was a contributing factor in Lopez's death.

"These types of cases are always tragic," Shanes said. "This one was completely unnecessary. Your friend's death was completely unnecessary."

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