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updated: 11/20/2013 4:44 PM

Antioch Township man sentenced to periodic jail time in fatal street race

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  • Michael R. Dawson

    Michael R. Dawson


An Antioch Township man who pleaded guilty to his role in an illegal street race that ended in the death of a 16-year-old Antioch High School girl was sentenced to 18 months in periodic imprisonment Wednesday.

Michael Dawson, 19, will only be allowed to leave the Lake County jail to attend substance abuse or behavioral health treatment programs, Lake County Judge Victoria Rossetti said during the sentencing hearing.

Dawson also will serve 30 months of intense probation, must complete 200 hours of community service and will pay a fine of $3,000 for his role in the illegal street race that resulted in the death of his friend, Cynthia Perez, Rossetti said.

"I remember ... my father saying to me that a car is like a loaded weapon," Rossetti said in issuing the sentence. "Every decision you make with that car can take the life of another."

Under the law, intense probation means Dawson could be resentenced to the Illinois Department of Corrections should he break any of the rules while in periodic imprisonment or on probation. They include curfew violations, testing positive for drugs or alcohol, or not checking in with probation when ordered to do so.

The sentencing came after Dawson pleaded guilty to a single count of aggravated street racing stemming from the June 24 race with 17-year-old Jeremy Betancourt of Antioch on Route 120 near Hunt Club Road in Gurnee.

During the race, Betancourt lost control of his vehicle, slid into the center median, and rolled over, authorities said. Perez and her boyfriend, Gio Bustos, 20, were not wearing seat belts in the back seat of the car Betancourt was driving, and fell out of the back window when the car rolled, authorities said.

Perez died at the scene. Bustos, Betancourt, and a third unidentified male were injured and later treated and released from Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville.

In court on Wednesday, officials said Dawson was the person who dialed 9-1-1 immediately after the crash, and also phoned Perez' mother -- Hilda Hinkle -- to say Perez died in the accident.

Dawson took full responsibility for his role in the crash in court, and apologized to Hinkle and other family members.

"I will not ask for forgiveness for I have not yet forgiven myself," he said, reading through tears from a statement he wrote while in jail. "Not a day goes by without me feeling ... regret for the decision I made."

During her own emotional victim impact statement, Hinkle said her "heart is empty, my soul is empty" from the loss of Perez.

"I have lost my daughter, my baby girl, my everything," she said. "The only thing we have left of our baby girl is our memories."

Betancourt, of the 41000 block of North Circle Drive in Antioch Township, also faces criminal charges including illegal street racing, aggravated driving under the influence of drugs and reckless homicide.

He remains free on $100,000 bond after completing a stay in a behavioral and drug treatment facility in Lake Villa.

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