Case dismissed against defendant in Lake Villa group home death
Authorities dropped criminal charges Tuesday against a Wisconsin man previously accused of lying to police investigating the death of a teenager at a Lake Villa home for youths with emotional and behavioral disabilities.
Lake County prosecutors dismissed the obstructing justice case of Justin Serak, 28, of Grafton, Wisconsin, after he agreed to give truthful testimony against a former co-worker charged with manslaughter in the March 2016 death of Shaquan Allen at the Allendale Association Lake Villa campus.
"The state did a good job investigating this case," Serak attorney Robert Ritacca said. "But it was always our opinion that Mr. Serak was 100 percent innocent in terms of the criminal charges."
Serak did not comment after court.
His former Allendale co-worker, James Davis, 38, of Round Lake remains in custody at the Lake County jail on charges of involuntary manslaughter and obstruction of justice stemming from the March 30 death of Shaquan, a 16-year-old from Chicago. Davis is being held on $500,000 bail.
Authorities say the teen died as Davis and Serak were trying to get him back to his room in one of the cottages at Allendale after a behavioral episode. Serak grabbed the teen's legs and Davis his upper body, applying a chokehold, authorities say.
Lake Villa police and rescue were called to the Allendale campus at 9:58 p.m. in response to a reported injury. Shaquan was taken to Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, where he was pronounced dead at 11:10 p.m., officials said.
Officials said 15 minutes passed between the time the teen fell unconscious and 911 was called by the Allendale staff.
Davis and Serak initially told investigators the teen slipped on a wet floor, authorities said. But 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 Shaquan's death appear to be an accident, officials said.
Davis is scheduled to appear in court May 17 for a case management hearing.