A Fox Lake man was told by a Lake County judge that he would be sentenced to prison if he accepts a plea deal for his role in an alcohol-related crash that killed a lifelong friend.
Anthony Cechini, 24, now needs to decide whether he will accept a plea deal or go to trial for the death of David Letchinger, 21, of McHenry.
Prosecutors and defense attorneys met with Lake County Judge Daniel Shanes behind closed doors Thursday to determine what kind of sentence Shanes would impose on Cechini if he were to accept a plea deal.
After the conference was complete, Shanes told Cechini in court that he would be looking to sentence Cechini to prison for the alcohol-fueled crash on Oct. 1, and that he would not accept a probation-only plea deal.
"When a person pleads guilty ... it's a factor in their favor," Shanes told Cechini following the conference. "I will not accept a disposition of only probation in this case."
Cechini, of the 0 to 100 block of North Lake Drive, was indicted by a Lake County grand jury on five counts of aggravated DUI resulting in death, five counts of aggravated DUI that resulted in bodily harm, and one count of reckless homicide in connection with the crash that killed Letchinger and injured a second passenger.
Cechini could be sentenced up to 14 years in prison if found guilty of the most serious charge.
Authorities said Cechini was westbound on the 100 block of Nippersink Road at 4 p.m. when the 2004 Subaru he was driving veered off the road and slammed into a tree near Fox Lake's Lakefront Park.
Letchinger was airlifted to Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, where he died. Cechini and a second passenger were taken to the hospital with nonlife threatening injuries.
Following his release from the hospital, Cechini was taken to Lake County jail and charged with aggravated DUI and reckless homicide, charges that were later increased.
He remains free from jail after posting 10 percent of his $250,000 bail.
Shanes said Cechini and the two friends were drinking at a Fox Lake bar prior to the crash, and that he lost control of his vehicle while driving recklessly on a gravel road in front of the village-owned park.
He added Cechini's blood alcohol content at the time of the crash was .15, nearly twice the legal limit.
Defense attorney Doug Zeit told Shanes in court, "It's not my belief that this will be a trial."
Both sides are expected to appear in court Sept. 13.