Antioch teen involved in fatal street race told to follow rules at treatment center or return to jail

Posted10/15/2013 4:19 PM
  • Jeremy A. Betancourt

    Jeremy A. Betancourt

An Antioch Township man awaiting trial for his role in a drag race that killed a friend was given one last chance to follow the rules of a Lake Villa behavioral health center or go to jail.

Jeremy Betancourt, 17, was warned by Lake County Judge George Bridges that his bond will be increased if he continues to break the inpatient counseling center's rules banning use of cellphones and social media.

Betancourt is free from jail on $100,000 bail on charges of aggravated driving under the influence of drugs that resulted in the June 24 death of Cynthia Perez, 16. He is allowed to remain free on bond only if he stays at and follows the rules of the treatment facility.

Lake County prosecutors held an emergency hearing Monday to revoke Betancourt's bail after he obtained a cellphone from his mother during a dentist appointment and posted pictures of himself on Facebook this month.

He wrote on the social media site he has been sober for four months, then posted a statement about how Perez was "always loved and never forgotten."

Despite the violation, Bridges said he felt the "best place" for Betancourt is at the facility. He warned Betancourt this was his last chance.

"Putting you in jail would just put you into a downward spiral," Bridges said. "So, this is your last opportunity to be free on bond."

Betancourt, of the 41000 block of North Circle Drive, pleaded not guilty to multiple varying charges of aggravated driving under the influence that resulted in death, reckless homicide and aggravated street racing for his role in the crash that killed Perez, of Antioch.

Betancourt was behind the wheel of a Honda during the illegal street race on Route 120 in Gurnee, authorities said. The Honda was seen by witnesses driving erratically before it slid into the center median ditch between the eastbound and westbound lanes, went airborne and rolled over.

Perez was in the back seat and not wearing a seat belt when the car flipped over, authorities said. She fell out of the rear window during the crash, and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Betancourt was charged with reckless homicide and aggravated street racing immediately after the crash. A charge of aggravated driving under the influence that resulted in death was added after lab tests came back positive for marijuana in his system.

He was initially ordered held on $250,000 bail, but his bond was lowered to $100,000 after defense attorney Jed Stone said Betancourt was being enrolled in a Streamwood substance and behavioral assistance program.

Betancourt was discharged from the Streamwood facility with a report that he was not following the rules, so Stone moved him to the Lake Villa facility.

Prosecutors pointed out Tuesday that the Lake Villa center also issued a substandard report that Betancourt needed to work on impulse control and following the rules.

Both sides are due back in court Nov. 7. Betancourt's trial is expected to begin Jan. 6.

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