Mixed verdict in I-90 chase that ended in shooting

After 2½ hours of deliberations Tuesday, a Kane County jury found an Elk Grove Village man not guilty of attempted murder of a police officer after leading Chicago police on a chase in summer 2009 that ended after he was shot at an Elgin toll plaza.

However, Andrzej Wojtkielewicz, 23, of the 800 block of Tennessee Lane, was convicted on a second charge of aggravated battery of a police officer.

He will be sentenced by Judge David Akemann on Nov. 22 and could get up to 14 years in prison for an extended term because of a previous drug conviction.

Wojtkielewicz faced up to 80 years in prison if convicted of attempted murder of a police officer and aggravated battery,

Assistant State's Attorney Mark Stajdohar said he and Chicago police officers were disappointed with the verdict but respected the jury's decision after the trial, which began Sept. 12.

Stajdohar acknowledged it is difficult to prove intent to kill by the defendant in attempted murder cases, but he did not believe the state overcharged the case.

“I think it was an absolutely appropriate charge based on the facts of the case,” he said. “(Wojtkielewicz) clearly intended to run the officer over, but the jury saw it differently.”

Prosecutors argued that Wojtkielewicz tried to run over a Chicago police officer when authorities surrounded Wojtkielewicz's 2001 Mercedes SUV at the Elgin toll plaza on I-90 after a chase that started about 9 p.m. July 14 in Chicago.

Stajdohar argued that the SUV and its tires were pointed toward an area where officer Michael Orlando was standing and he had to open fire to protect himself.

Officers testified that they received information that Wojtkielewicz had two to three 1-kilogram bricks of cocaine in his SUV and possibly a weapon and tried to arrest him in Chicago before he sped off.

Topping 100 mph while tossing bags of cocaine out the window on I-90 near the O'Hare exit, Wojtkielewicz finally was surrounded by police at the Elgin toll plaza. Wojtkielewicz put the SUV in reverse when an officer tried to reach in the vehicle, knocking him down, and then put the SUV in drive and sped forward — tires screeching — toward Orlando, who shot Wojtkielewicz in the chest, prosecutors argued.

But defense attorney Richard Brezeczek argued that there was no evidence of tire marks from the screeching and that his client was merely pulling over to the side of the toll road and that's why the SUV was pointed that way.

Brezeczek also argued that there was no blood on the vehicle shifter, an indication that his client had put the SUV in park and had his hands up before he was shot.

“What they have to say has to be supported by the physical evidence,” Brezeczek told the jury. “Either the physical evidence is concocted or their story is concocted. It's up to you to make that decision.”

Afterward, Brezeczek said he was not surprised by the verdict but declined to say if Wojtkielewicz was relieved or disappointed. He still faces drug charges in Cook County that carry a prison term if he's convicted.

Trial begins in I-90 police chase that ended with gunfire in Elgin