Man gets 12 years in prison for drugged-driving crash that killed Judson University students

Caleb Jones' graduation from Judson University in May 2021 was a blur.

But one thing he remembers clearly: "There was literally an empty seat next to me," he said Friday. "It will stick with me forever."

That's because his friend and fellow architecture student Nathaniel Madison, 22, died in a crash with a speeding driver in Elgin the month before, along with another student.

Monday, that driver, 22-year-old Trevon Morris, was sentenced to 12 years in prison, for aggravated driving under the influence of cannabis - causing death.

Morris had three times the legal limit of THC in his blood April 20, 2021, the night of the crash.

Jones spoke Friday at the beginning of the sentencing hearing. Morris pleaded guilty in October. Charges of reckless homicide and aggravated street racing were dropped in exchange for the plea.

Jones was driving a 2004 Pontiac south on Route 31 at 9:15 p.m., turning left into Judson, when a Hyundai Elantra driven by Morris hit his car. A police officer testified Friday the Elantra was going 91 mph at impact, and Morris never braked or swerved to avoid the collision. The speed limit is 45 mph.

Authorities said Morris and Kahleel Steele were racing when Morris hit the Pontiac. The impact split the Pontiac in half, with the back half flying over a guard rail and ending up in a field.

Dallas Colburn III and Madison were sitting in the back seat, and were ejected. Their bodies ended up 37 and 70 feet away.

They were returning from buying snacks at a Target store for an all-night study session, said Dallas Colburn. His 22-year-old son was his only child.

"You have forever condemned four families to a future of relentless pain and suffering," Colburn said.

A prosecutor showed screenshots of Facebook and Instagram posts, taken since the crash, on accounts she said belonged to Morris. She said one showed Morris holding a bottle of cognac, and in another he appeared to be holding a marijuana blunt. The prosecutor also showed Facebook posts about an event Morris - a self-employed party planner - advertised as being "420 friendly." "420" is a pop culture reference to ingesting marijuana.

Steele was also charged with reckless homicide and aggravated street racing. He is awaiting trial.

2 Judson University students killed, 2 hurt in crash near campus

Judson University bids farewell to seniors killed in crash

Authorities: Street race triggered crash that killed Judson Students

Bail reduced for man charged with reckless homicide in crash that killed Judson students

Man pleads guilty to drugged DUI for crash that killed Judson University students

Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.