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updated: 9/18/2013 11:52 AM

Constitutionality of charges questioned in Highland Park huffing case

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  • Carly Rousso

      Carly Rousso


A defense attorney for a Highland Park woman accused of huffing a computer cleaner before driving into and killing a 5-year-old girl followed through on a threat to challenge the constitutionality of the charges in the case.

Defense attorney Doug Zeit formally filed a motion to dismiss the charges of aggravated driving under the influence of an intoxicating compound against Carly Rousso, 19, because the chemical she allegedly inhaled is not considered intoxicating in some states.

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Zeit said Illinois officials have not definitively ruled on whether the chemical, difluoroethane, is considered an intoxicating compound. For the charge to be filed against Rousso, the chemical would need to be definitively considered intoxicating, Zeit said.

Wisconsin officials determined in 2012 that difluoroethane is not an intoxicating compound and, therefore, people cannot be convicted of driving while intoxicated for "huffing" aerosol fumes, he added.

Zeit did not comment about the case after leaving the courtroom Wednesday.

Rousso faces four counts of aggravated driving under the influence of an intoxicating compound and a single count of reckless homicide for her role in the accident that killed Jaclyn Santos-Sacramento in September 2012.

Authorities said Rousso was sniffing computer dust cleaner moments before crashing a family-owned Lexus into Santos-Sacramento and her family as they walked on the 700 block of Central Avenue in Highland Park.

The girl's mother and two brothers also were injured, but survived the accident.

Rousso could spend 26 years in prison if found guilty of the most serious charges.

Assistant state's attorney Michael J. Ori said the state attorney general's office must decide if it will argue the constitutionality of the charges, or whether it should be done through the state's attorney's office.

Both sides are due back in court Sept. 27 with an answer from the attorney general's office.

Rousso's trial has been postponed until Nov. 1.

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