Trial delayed for employee accused of covering up Allendale Dath
The trial for a Wisconsin man accused of lying to police investigating the death of a teenager at a Lake Villa center for youths with emotional and behavioral disabilities has been delayed due to the voluminous amount of material a judge must review.
Defense attorney Robert Ritacca said he wanted to keep a July 18 trial date for Justin Serak, 27, of Grafton, Wisconsin, but agreed to the continuance after Allendale Association attorneys turned over numerous personnel files, policy and training manuals, and rules and regulations.
Because of state rules governing juveniles, mental health, health care and other regulations imposed by the Department of Children and Family Services, Judge Daniel Shanes is required to review each item to determine if the information should be admissible at trial and can be reviewed by attorneys in the case.
A new trial date will be set after a July 21 status hearing. That hearing is to determine whether Shanes was able to review all of the documents, which include Allendale personnel files for Serak and co-defendant James Davis, employee handbooks, policies and procedures, behavior treatment planning guides, therapeutic crisis intervention policies and DCFS rules and regulations.
Shaquan Allen, 16, of Chicago, was declared dead at Advocate Condell Medical Center at 11:10 p.m. March 30 after he had been restrained with an illegal choke hold during a confrontation at Allendale, authorities said.
Davis is charged with involuntary manslaughter and obstruction of justice for trying to cover up the cause of the death, authorities said. Serak is charged with two felony counts of obstruction of justice for lying to police, authorities said.
Serak is free from Lake County jail after posting 10 percent of his $50,000 bail. Davis remains held in the jail on $500,000 bail.
Authorities say Davis and Serak were trying to get Allen back into his room after a behavioral episode about 9:30 p.m. Serak grabbed the teen's legs while Davis grabbed his upper body and applied a chokehold, authorities say.
Lake Villa police and rescue were called to Allendale at 9:58 p.m. for a reported injury. Allen was taken to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead, officials said.
Officials said 15 minutes passed between the time Allen became unconscious and 911 was called by the Allendale staff.
Davis and Serak initially told investigators Allen slipped on water on the floor, officials said. However, 16 witnesses contradicted that statement, which led to the charges.
Serak later admitted to police he and Davis came up with the story to make the death appear to be an accident, officials said.