Mundelein man sentenced to 24 years for causing fatal 2012 crash

Calling it a tragedy for both families, a Lake County judge sentenced a Mundelein man to 24 years in prison Tuesday for intentionally causing a crash that killed a Round Lake Beach mother of three in 2012.

In addition to the first-degree murder sentence, Mark Oelerich, 23, was sentenced by Judge James Booras to 14 years in prison for aggravated driving under the influence of drugs for intentionally swerving into a car driven by Araceli Villasenor, 24, on Cedar Lake Road in Round Lake on Thanksgiving eve.

The two sentences will be served at the same time, Booras said. Oelerich must serve 100 percent of the murder sentence before being eligible for parole.

Oelerich received 733 days for time already served in Lake County jail.

"I've seen the grief and seen the tragedy caused by the defendant's irresponsible ... appalling behavior," Booras said in court. "I am convinced for sentencing purposes, the defendant was under the influence of drugs."

Oelerich was facing 20 to 60 years in prison for first-degree murder. Prosecutors had asked for a sentence of 28 years, while defense attorneys asked for the minimum of 20 years.

"We considered all the mitigating circumstances and felt 28 years was an appropriate sentence," Assistant State's Attorney Michael Ori said. "We were satisfied with the judge's decision."

A jury took less than two hours in September to determine Oelerich was guilty of murder after he drove a family-owned Cadillac SUV over the centerline into Villasenor's Nissan at 9 p.m.

Two of Villasenor's three children were seriously injured in the crash. Ori said the children have completely recovered from those injuries.

Defense attorneys Steve Weinberg and Elliot Pinsel argued at trial Oelerich was mentally ill when he caused the crash. Assistant State's Attorney Ben Dillon and Michael Ori said Oelerich was high on synthetic cannabis and a psychedelic drug, which caused his erratic behavior that night.

After the crash, Oelerich told authorities he intentionally swerved into the oncoming vehicle at speeds nearing twice that of the posted 35 mph speed limit because he was testing his mortality.

An emotional Oelerich said during the sentencing hearing he was sorry and wished he received substance abuse help before to the crash.

"I ruined so many lives because of the accident," Oelerich said. "I feel terrible for what I've done. I'm so sorry."

Emmanuel Villasenor, the 15-year-old brother of the victim, said his life was "destroyed" when his sister was killed.

"This event ... this crime that was committed against my family and I will never be forgotten. That will forever be scarred into my mind and heart," he said. "It was one filled with denial, anger, grieving and depression."

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