Driving record haunts man who beat murder rap

Michael Diaz beat a murder rap twice but now his driving record could land him in prison.

The 34-year-old Aurora man, who was charged but not convicted in two 1995 murders, was found guilty last week of driving while license revoked for the 17th time.

Because of his criminal history, prosecutors said, Diaz faces up to 30 years in prison.

“He's definitely up there” in terms of repeat offenders, Assistant State's Attorney Danielle Bechtold said. “I had a guy who had 22 or 24 (driving while license revoked convictions), and that's the most I've ever seen.”

According to court records, Diaz has not had a valid license since 1996. His most recent arrest for driving came after a hit-and-run crash in a parking lot in Aurora on Sept. 27, 2009.

Bechtold said Diaz was charged with a Class X felony because of his felony background, which includes convictions for aggravated domestic battery and possession of a controlled substance.

But he also has faced murder charges.

Diaz was among 31 men charged a few years ago in Operation First Degree Burn, a sweep targeting suspects in 22 cold-case Aurora murders. He went on to be found not guilty in one killing, and prosecutors dismissed charges in another.

Over the years, Diaz also has been found not guilty of criminal trespass, a drug charge and aggravated battery, his attorney, Liam Dixon, said.

“I think quite frankly they (prosecutors) are very excited that they have Mr. Diaz in their sights,” Dixon said. “But 30 years for driving while license revoked is a shock to the conscience.”

Sentencing is set for Dec. 2 in front of Kane County Associate Judge T. Jordan Gallagher.

Judges needed

The 16th Judicial Circuit in Kane County is accepting applications through Nov. 3 for two associate judge positions expected to open up as a result of the election next month.

The successful candidates would replace outgoing Associate Judge Kevin Busch, who is running unopposed for a circuit judge vacancy, and Associate Judge Karen Simpson, who is running unopposed for a subcircuit vacancy.

Applications, which are available in the chief judge's office in St. Charles, will be accepted until 5 p.m. Nov. 3 at the Administrative Office of Illinois Courts, 3101 Old Jackson Road, Springfield, IL, 62704. Materials should be sent to AOIC Director Cynthia Y. Cobbs; they should not be e-mailed or faxed, officials said.

Ebey Award

Kane County Sheriff Pat Perez will present the 2010 Roscoe Ebey Citizen of the Year Award during a ceremony Wednesday at his office, 37W755 Route 38, St. Charles.

The annual award, named after an elderly war veteran who was murdered by an intruder in his Aurora Township home in 2007, recognizes citizens who are proactive in their community.

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