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posted: 11/14/2013 5:57 PM

Guilty plea in Virgil Twp. crash that killed boy, 11

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  • Benjamin Black

    Benjamin Black


A Sycamore man pleaded guilty Thursday to aggravated DUI for having heroin in his system when he caused a chain-reaction crash in Virgil in February, killing an 11-year-old boy and severely injuring another person. Benjamin Black, 29, of the 1500 block of Sparkhayes Drive, faces between three and 14 years in prison when sentenced March 20, 2014, by Judge James Hallock.

"Some might view a heroin habit as the self destruction of the user. But this case is much more than that. This case is gut wrenching tragedy," Kane County State's Attorney Joe McMahon said.

According to prosecutors, Black was headed west on Route 64 in a 1999 Ford Expedition at about 7:30 p.m. Feb. 27 when he rear ended a 1999 Chevy Cavalier, killing Matthew Ranken of Sycamore, who was a back seat passenger.

Teale Noble, a front seat passenger, was severely injured. The car and another vehicle were stopped on Route 64 because of another crash that occurred farther west on Route 64.

Authorities took a urine sample from Black after the crash and it showed the presence of a heroin metabolite, prosecutors said.

In Illinois, if a motorist has the presence of any illegal drugs in their system, they can be held criminally responsible for a fatal crash. The state does not have to prove impairment.

Black on Thursday entered a cold plea, in which a defendant leaves it up to a judge to decide punishment instead of agreeing with a sentence with prosecutors beforehand.

Prosecutors will present Hallock with aggravating factors, such as Black's previous criminal record, which includes a felony theft conviction from an April 2002 arrest in Geneva and a possession of drug paraphernalia arrest in January 2006 in St. Charles. He served 45 and 18 days, respectively, in jail for those offenses, and received 30 months probation for the felony instead of prison, according to court records.

Black, who was being held on $250,000 bail, also must serve 85 percent of any sentence issued by Hallock.

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