Attorney files motion to dismiss charges in Allendale death case
A defense attorney has filed a motion to dismiss obstruction of justice charges filed against an Allendale employee after the death of 16-year-old resident of the Lake Villa campus.
Attorney Robert Ritacca said in a court document that Justin Serak, 27, of Grafton, Wisconsin, told investigators the truth about Shaquan Allen's death after police revealed the Chicago boy died March 30 during a restraint at the residential facility for children and adolescents with emotional and behavioral disabilities.
To be charged with obstruction of justice, a person must make a false statement for the purpose of avoiding criminal charges, Ritacca said in the court document filed Monday. Because Serak told the truth about what happened when police told him Allen had died and a crime had been committed, Serak did not violate the law, Ritacca argued.
Ritacca also filed a motion requesting an independent medical report to determine Allen's cause of death. A Lake County coroner's office autopsy report included in the filing claimed Allen died of asphyxiation due to restraint. No physical signs of asphyxiation were shown in that report, and Allen may have died of a heart defect, Ritacca said in the document.
Serak is due in court Friday, but Judge Daniel Shanes is expected to set a future hearing date to argue the motions.
Allen was declared dead at Advocate Condell Medical Center at 11:10 p.m. after he had been restrained with an illegal choke hold during a confrontation with Serak and James Davis, 37, of Round Lake, authorities said. Both were Allendale employees.
Authorities say they 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. 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, but 16 witnesses contradicted that statement, officials said.
Davis was charged with involuntary manslaughter and obstruction of justice for trying to cover up the cause of the death, authorities said. Serak was 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.