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Teen Pleads Guilty To DUI In Drag Race That Killed Antioch Girl

WAUKEGAN, Ill. (STMW) -- Antioch teenager Jeremy Betancourt pleaded guilty Thursday to aggravated DUI for a crash that caused the death of 16-year-old Antioch High School student Cynthia Perez.

Under a negotiated deal approved by Judge Victoria Rossetti, Betancourt pleaded guilty to aggravated driving under the influence of marijuana, a Class 2 felony, while other charges against him, including aggravated street racing and reckless homicide, were dropped.

He is scheduled to be sentenced June 30.

Assistant State's Attorney Lauren Kalcheim Rothenberg said the state wants Betancourt to serve time in the Illinois Department of Corrections. The deal caps any prison sentence he could receive at 10 years.

But probation is also an option, Rossetti said, and indicated that if the defense can provide proper mitigating circumstances, she would consider intensive probation with a "significant period of periodic imprisonment," possibly 30 months.

Rossetti said that at the June sentencing hearing, she will take a final probationary report, as well as arguments from both sides, under consideration when determining his sentence.

The judge told Betancourt, who is out on $100,000 bond with strict conditions, that "the period between now and sentencing is very important. Any violations of any conditions and there would not be probation."

After the hearing Thursday, defense attorney Jed Stone said he is confident Betancourt will receive a probationary sentence. He has stressed that Betancourt had drug and mental health issues when the crash occurred, but has since received treatment, is working on rehabilitation and is complying with intensive conditions set by Rossetti.

"Now we have a kid on an upward trajectory," he said, adding that Betancourt and his family are very aware of the pain and loss suffered by the family of Perez.

Betancourt was charged following a crash on Route 120 in Gurnee, just east of Hunt Club Road, that occurred on June 24, 2013, while he was street racing with another car. Perez was a passenger in his car and was ejected from the vehicle and pronounced dead at the scene.

The driver of the other car, Michael R. Dawson, 19, also of Antioch, pleaded guilty to aggravated street racing in a negotiated agreement last year, and was sentenced to 30 months of intensive probation, including 18 months of periodic imprisonment in Lake County Jail.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2014. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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