Judge to decide future of West Chicago man accused of Hanover Park fatal crash

"Just because you have dementia doesn't mean you're automatically a vegetable and don't know what's going on," Assistant State's Attorney Michael Fisher said during closing arguments of Barajas' discharge hearing Thursday. "If you can drive from Hanover Park back to your home in West Chicago, you're able to perceive that someone just crashed into your car with a motorcycle."

Barajas, formerly of the 8oo block of East Grand Lake Boulevard in West Chicago, is charged with leaving the scene of an accident involving death and failure to yield in connection with last April's crash in Hanover Park that killed Jankowski.

Prosecutors are seeking for Barajas to be found "not not guilty," meaning he could be involuntarily committed despite being unable to participate in his own defense at trial.

Defense attorney Tim Martin, however, argued Barajas, who suffers from mild to severe dementia and plaque on his brain, should be acquitted of the charges. If acquitted, Barajas, who is free on $50,000 bail, would be released to his family without facing further penalty.

Several witnesses testified that they saw Barajas, wearing a baseball cap, drive his car into Jankowski's motorcycle and leave the scene heading south on County Farm Road.

Barajas' son, Ramon Barajas Jr., testified Thursday that his father, who he has a distant relationship with, called him the morning after the crash and told him someone broke into the car.

The younger Barajas said he arrived later in the day to find the damaged car in the driveway with a vacuum cleaner nearby.

"After seeing the damage, I told him there was no way in hell someone broke into the car," Barajas Jr. said. "He was in an accident."

Barajas Jr. said he had started to call area police departments to see if any of them reported a crash involving his dad's car when he saw a "news bulletin" that Hanover Park police were looking for a car matching his father's in a fatal crash.

He said he then called Martin who arranged for police to interview his father.

"Once we knew, we had to do the right thing," he said.

Shortly after the crash, he said the family moved his father into an assisted living facility, despite knowing since about January of 2016 that his father suffered from some memory loss.

Martin said he believes the medical evidence is solid enough to convince Judge Jeffrey MacKay to acquit Barajas of the charges.

"He has moderate to severe dementia and an inability to recall or recognize certain events," Martin said.

MacKay set a 1:30 p.m. hearing on April 16 to rule on Barajas' future.

West Chicago man, 83, charged in fatal hit-and-run in Hanover Park

Discharge hearing to decide fate of West Chicago driver

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