Defense questions huffing charges in fatal crash

  • Carly Rousso

    Carly Rousso

Updated 8/29/2013 3:14 PM

The defense attorney for a Highland Park woman accused of huffing a cleaner before driving into and killing a 5-year-old girl is questioning the constitutionality of the charges in the case.

Defense attorney Doug Zeit said he will file a motion within two weeks challenging the charges filed against Carly Rousso, 19, because the chemical she allegedly inhaled, difluoroethane, is not considered intoxicating in some states.


Zeit said Illinois officials have not definitively ruled on the chemical. However, he said, Wisconsin officials determined in 2012 that difluoroethane is not an intoxicating compound and, therefore, people cannot be convicted of driving while intoxicated for "huffing" aerosol fumes.

"There's no other case like this in Illinois," he said. "We'd be remiss if we didn't challenge the constitutionality of the charges."

Rousso faces four counts of aggravated driving under the influence of an intoxicating compound and reckless homicide for her role in the accident that killed Jaclyn Santos-Sacramento in September 2012.

Authorities said Rousso was sniffing computer dust cleaner moments before crashing a family-owned Lexus into Santos-Sacramento and her family as they walked on the 700 block of Central Avenue in Highland Park.

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The girl's mother and two brothers also were injured.

Rousso could spend 26 years in prison if found guilty of the most serious charges.

Rousso was in court Thursday despite questions as to whether she would appear. She missed her last court appearance after she checked herself into a Chicago-area hospital for treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Zeit also said he has requested a conference with prosecutors to negotiate a plea deal.

Assistant state's attorney Michael J. Ori said he is delaying that conference until after he reviews the constitutionality motion.

Rousso's trial is scheduled to begin Sept. 27. Both sides are expected back in court Sept. 18.

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