St. Charles man pleads guilty to 2017 DUI that killed DeKalb teen

  • John A. Yanni faces prison when sentenced May 13 for a fatal 2017 DUI crash.

    John A. Yanni faces prison when sentenced May 13 for a fatal 2017 DUI crash.

Updated 2/25/2020 12:33 PM

A 28-year-old St. Charles man has pleaded guilty to aggravated DUI in a 2017 crash in DeKalb County that killed a DeKalb High School senior and injured his passenger, an Elgin man.

John A. Yanni, III, of the 100 block of South 18th Street, was arrested and charged after the Jan. 17, 2017 crash that killed Johnathon Ode, 18, and injured Ode's passenger, Evan Cortez, of Elgin, who was 23 at the time.


According to DeKalb County prosecutors, Yanni was westbound on Route 38 near Peace Road in his 2001 Chevy Silverado when he crossed the centerline and collided with Ode's 2000 Ford Taurus.

Ode died at the scene and Cortez was taken to OSF St. Anthony Medical Center in Rockford with serious injuries, authorities said.

A blood draw later showed Yanni's blood-alcohol concentration, or BAC, to be .125 percent, according to prosecutors. The legal threshold in Illinois is .08 percent.

Under state law, Yanni faces a prison term of three to 14 years for aggravated DUI that must be served at 85% instead of the customary 50% for most crimes.

Yanni was set for a jury trial in DeKalb County late last week.

Instead, he gave up his right to a trial, pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated DUI on the condition that prosecutors seek a prison term of no more than 10 years.

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Yanni is free on bond and due in court May 13 for sentencing by Judge Philip Montgomery, according to court records.

A message left with Yanni's defense attorney, Liam Dixon, was not immediately returned.

Ode's family is suing Yanni for damages. That case is next due in DeKalb County court March 6.

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