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updated: 3/27/2014 8:08 PM

Guilty plea in Gurnee street racing death

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  • Jeremy A. Betancourt

    Jeremy A. Betancourt


An Antioch Township teen pleaded guilty to aggravated driving under the influence Thursday in connection with a 2013 street-racing crash that left a 16-year-old girl dead.

Jeremy Betancourt, 18, faces up to 10 years in prison, a spokeswoman for the Lake County state's attorney's office said. Sentencing is scheduled for June 30.

Judge Victoria Rossetti has recommended periodic imprisonment and probation in the case, said Betancourt's attorney, Jed Stone. That's what another defendant in the case received when he was sentenced last year.

In exchange for the guilty plea, several other felony counts were dropped, officials said. Betancourt initially was charged with reckless homicide, aggravated street racing and aggravated DUI.

Assistant State's Attorney Lauren Kalcheim-Rothenberg, who prosecuted the case, couldn't be reached for comment.

The June 24, 2013, crash killed a passenger in Betancourt's car, Antioch High School student Cynthia Perez.

Betancourt was racing against Michael Dawson, also of Antioch Township, on Route 120 in Gurnee. When Betancourt lost control of his car, it slid into a median and overturned, authorities said.

Perez was thrown from the car when it rolled over, authorities said.

Two other passengers survived the crash.

Dawson, now 20, pleaded guilty to aggravated street racing in November 2013. Reckless homicide charges against Dawson were dropped, too.

Dawson was sentenced to 18 months of periodic imprisonment and can be released only for treatment. Additionally, he received 30 months of probation.

Stone called the case "absolutely tragic" and said Perez died "needlessly and senselessly." Stone said his client was on a downward spiral that led to the race and the crash.

Betancourt has since completed drug rehabilitation, is sober and is back in school, Stone said.

"He's struggling, but he's on an upward trajectory," Stone said.

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