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updated: 2/19/2014 4:15 PM

Defense attorney wants plea deal in Highland Park huffing case

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  • Carly Rousso, 19, of Highland Park, is charged with reckless homicide and four counts of aggravated driving under the influence of an intoxicating compound in a 2012 crash that killed a 5-year-old girl.

      Carly Rousso, 19, of Highland Park, is charged with reckless homicide and four counts of aggravated driving under the influence of an intoxicating compound in a 2012 crash that killed a 5-year-old girl.
    Pool/Chicago Tribune, Stacey Wescott, 2013

 
 

The defense attorney for a Highland Park woman accused of huffing computer dust cleaner before driving into and killing a 5-year-old girl told a Lake County judge that prosecutors are unwilling to negotiate a plea deal with his client.

Doug Zeit said in court he would advise Carly Rousso, 19, to immediately plead guilty to a single count of reckless homicide for the death of Jaclyn Santos-Sacramento in the Sept. 3, 2012 crash.

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"We have gotten together, and there is no talking with (prosecutors) at this point," Zeit told Judge James Booras on Wednesday.

Assistant State's Attorney Michael Ori said in court that Zeit is pushing to have Rousso plead guilty to the lesser of the charges filed against her.

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 Santos-Sacramento.

Reckless homicide carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison, while aggravated DUI resulting in death could put Rousso behind bars for up to 14 years.

Booras expressed frustration with the two sides and their inability to agree, and said they should reach an agreement or go to trial.

Authorities said Rousso was "huffing" the computer dust cleaner moments before crashing the family-owned Lexus she was driving 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 crash.

If Rousso is convicted on all charges, she could spend a maximum of 26 years in prison.

Zeit filed a motion last month seeking to dismiss the charges against Rousso because the chemical she was allegedly inhaling has not been specifically listed as intoxicating in some states, including Illinois.

However, Zeit dropped that motion in court Thursday, claiming he wants the case against Rousso concluded as soon as possible

"We're doing as much as we can to move this forward," he said. "If we continued with the motion, I would have never been able to get it done in less than a year."

Both sides will return to court March 12 to see if a plea deal has been reached.

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