Quick Hits – August 25, 2017

Sometimes the KCSAO gets it right

The contentious Tri-Cities topic du jour seems to be the lack of charges filed against the young Aurora woman who killed a 57 year-old Batavia father of two as she sped through a red light. Not only is the topic all the buzz on social media, but local elected officials are fielding calls from constituents unhappy with a perceived a lack of zeal on the part of Kane County State’s Attorney Joe McMahon.

To fill in the blanks, at about 8:30 a.m. on July 9, Noel Lounsbury, 28, was heading north on Randall Road when she ran the  red light at McKee Street, colliding with and killing Terry Starck as he made a legal left turn onto Randall Road. Lounsberry was doing 53 mph at the time.

The reason this story supplanted the Campana Building in our collective unconscious is Lounsberry made a social media point of bragging about regularly getting out of speeding tickets. And when you consider what she has been cited for, she ain’t exactly a stellar driver.

Prior to Starck’s untimely death, since 2006, Lounsbury has received five traffic tickets, two for going 15 to 20 miles over the limit, and two for driving without insurance. The other was a seatbelt violation, and that’s just Kane County.

Lounsbury is also an attractive woman, which makes you wonder just how many speeding tickets she talked herself out of. So, that means this one is also on all the officers who let young women go because they bat their eyelashes so nicely at them. Male police officers have got to stop pulling this shit – just write ‘em up!

At least she had insurance this time.

Given her inappropriate social media posts, the pitchfork and torch rabble is demanding her hide in the form of reckless homicide charges. But that’s a really high standard. You have to engage in the kind of gross negligence that means you’re behavior reasonably could cause someone’s death.

And being a consistently bad driver ain’t it.

McMahon was dead on when he told reporters, “These are the appropriate charges. There was no evidence of drugs, alcohol, texting, driving at an excessive speed or recklessness. This traffic crash had horrific results and the driver cited was at fault, but she did not commit a felony.”

McMahon

The truth is, when I do 53 down Randall Road, by the other drivers’ reaction, you’d think I just murdered one of their children.

But Lounsbury ain’t nearly out of the woods, either! While the police and prosecutors can’t take prior bad acts into account when filing charges, the judge can when it comes to sentencing.

And there are any number of civil remedies available to Mr. Starck’s family, too. I’m betting her insurance won’t cover the inevitable damages and, though I’ve gotten really good at it, civil litigation is no fun, either. Whether she declares bankruptcy or not, her credit will be destroyed, she may never have a house in her name, insurance will be difficult to come by and Starcks’ children can sue her for the loss of their father – after she declares bankruptcy.

I understand that’s a very small consolation, but I’d much rather face criminal consequences and be done with them than to have to deal with that slow civil drip for the rest of my life. And I don’t care who you are, it won’t be easy living with a man’s blood on your hands.

This was a tragedy borne of the arrogance and immature stupidity of a 28 year-old poor excuse for a human being that shouldn’t have a driver’s license, but it’s not reckless homicide. Joe McMahon got this one right.

 

The DH does it again!

Just when you think it’s safe to go back in the journalistic water, the Daily Herald somehow manages to sink to a new low. Considering the depths to which that paper has already descended, I didn’t think it was possible.

Apparently, Elgin City Councilman John Steffen’s adult daughter – who lives in Rhode Island, no less – was charged with felony rioting, misdemeanor assault on a police officer and destruction of property as a result of participating in an anti-Trump inauguration protest in Washington D.C. Those protesters broke the windows of a Bank of America, Starbucks and McDonald’s.

First, 200 people were charged with exactly the same thing, which means the younger Steffen probably had no hand in the actual violence. They simply charge everyone with everything, a favorite Fed tactic, to prevent guilty pleas and get the protesters to rat each other out.

Daily Herald Building

Second, contrary to all the stupid – and I do mean stupid because no other word fits  – newspaper and social media commentary, the prosecutors actually have to prove she did those things. Until then, she’s innocent.

Third, while the Enquirer…I mean DH, was busy running this non-new story, they completely missed the fact that, while the Orangeman-in-Chief blatantly uses federal officers to quell legal dissent, he repeatedly advocated violence against protestors at his own campaign rallies.

Fourth, even if she is found guilty, when do the sins of the daughter ever apply to the father? (And vice versa.) Put more simply, why does the Daily Herald feel such a great need to embarrass Alderman Steffen?

Lastly, where’s the news value here? It’s as close to porn as you can get without the nudity. And what local story did the DH fail to cover by going with this one? One of my favorite former managing editors called this “complete bullshit.” I couldn’t have put it better myself.

Since we all know the DH didn’t figure this one out on their own, it makes you wonder who spilled the beans. Though, to tell you the truth, I’m not wondering at all.

For the Daily Herald to go after lower hanging future fruit, they’re going to have to start digging holes under apple trees. Please cancel your subscriptions to that paper people so something else can rise in its place.

Repeat after me, the Daily Herald sucks!

12 thoughts on “Quick Hits – August 25, 2017

  1. Why, Jeff! Whatever do you mean?

    The August 6 issue of the DH had a glowing editorial commemorating
    the birthday of Hosea C Paddock, founder of this terrific printed bastion of morals and journalistic honesty, who passed on to that Great Printing Press In The Sky in 1935. It’s titled: “Let us share our affection for the memory of Hosea C. Paddock AND THE GIFT OF HOS COURAGE” (emphasis mine).

    And remember the motto they print at the top of EVERY editorial page:

    “Our aim:
    To fear God,
    tell the truth
    and make money.”

    If the current management of the DH REALLY fears God, the third line of that motto should be removed, in “fear” that God will smite them with lightning for blasphemy.

  2. Not reckless?? The unremorseful bitch ran through a red light and made no attempt to stop because she didn’t even notice a car was in her way! As I read the statute, there is no requirement to prove she was drinking or using drugs or texting…even though I would bet the farm she was on her phone doing something. Probably taking a selfie. The statute simply states if you unintentionally kill someone via automobile you have committed reckless homicide.
    Based on her record, Ms. Lounsbury should not be allowed to drive, period. She just thinks she can bat her self perceived pretty eyelashes and all will be ok.
    I hope the civil courts hound her just enough to make her life miserable.

    • John,

      Whoa! I didn’t say she wasn’t reckless, she was worse than reckless. What I said was, what she did this time, did not meet the very high criminal reckless homicide standard. There is a massive difference.

      As for the civil possibilities, not only did I make myself clear, but I offered one really good piece of advice.

      Jeff

      • Jeff,
        I agree with you that you were very clear in your hints at and advice for civil options. I’m sure the victim’s family is already looking into this. As far as McMahon goes, I have to firmly disagree. He got it wrong…in this case, dead wrong. I tried to compare this case to that of the recent Will county case involving basically the same thing. The only difference I can see besides the body count, is the rate of speed of the offending driver. Maybe I missed it, but I didn’t see anywhere in the statute where “rate of speed” has to be a factor in committing reckless homicide . I am very familiar with the Randall/McKee intersection. That traffic signal and crossing traffic can be seen from quite a long distance away. You’d have to be a reckless, deaf, dumb-ass, and blind person not to notice. In addition to bragging about her speeding and not being caught, as you pointed out, Ms. Lounsbury has a proven track record of showing a reckless disregard for traffic laws. As you know, texting is only one of a multitude of functions one can perform on a smart phone. Was her phone investigated with any sort of forensic computer technique? Did she just receive a text? Some iPhones will show the sender that a text was received and read. Was she scrolling through social media? Was she taking photos? Was she looking at pictures…etc? The fact that she was clean, sober and not texting and still managed to kill someone makes the situation even more reckless in my opinion. What’s her excuse then? The sad part it, given the direction of travel is that Terry probably saw his fate coming…he probably saw that Ms. LousyDriver had her face buried in her phone…but now he is the one that is buried and she is out partying with friends. This woman needs to be removed from our roads and put in jail. She is clearly a reckless danger to anyone driving in her vicinity. Someone needs to wipe that smug, self-entitled smile off her profile pic. I bet if it was a McMahon family member in the ground today, charges would be different.

        John

      • So apparently you’re advocating that reckless homicide charges are applied differently from county to county as I read your opinion because that is the exact charge issued by the Will County states attorney for a driver running a red light and killing someone recently. But what do I know, I’m just rabble.

      • John,

        No statute can cover every specific possibility, so you have to look at case law to make your decision. And 8 mph over limit is not legal reckless endangerment.

        My brother is a retired officer, and he told me if he brought a 9 mph speeding ticket in front of a judge, they’d get really pissed and dismiss it.

        From my 11 years of covering Kane County, I GUARANTEE you the KCSAO, understanding a man was killed, subpoenaed Lounsbury’s phone records. They’d know if she was texting and they would’ve filed the appropriate charges. And they subpoenaed them directly from the phone company, too.

        I can’t consistently take the KCSAO to task for overcharging defendants and generally having no courage, and then hit them for making the right decision in this case.

        While law enforcement and the SA can’t consider prior bad acts when filing charges, the judge can. And I also understand that Lounsbury is already on supervision for a Naperville traffic violation. That will be problematic too.

        Trust me, if the judge can suspend or revoke her license, he or she will.

        I’m not trying to be any kind of contrarian, I simply tell the truth!

        Jeff

      • By your own words I am rabble incapable of critical thinking. The easiest thing for people to do when failing to use rational, logical thought while losing a debate is personally insult their opponent and attempt to ‘classify’ them thereby allowing a judgment to be made about the opponent. You see this occur on a daily basis in the news media. Let me logically explain your failure to grasp even rudimentary points.
        As to 1. Could someone know that their actions could lead to loss of life. Yes. Anyone with a driver’s license knows that running a red light could result in loss of life which constitutes reckless behavior.
        2. As I understand the facts there were no skid marks invalidating part of your argument. I don’t know the capabilities of the model of Jeep involved but onboard computers could possibly reveal the speed at the time of collision, 1/2 point.
        3. Our elected officials are expected to apply the laws as they are written, agreed but that’s not your point. That should actually be a separate point. Kane Co residents do elect officials which best represent their ideals, viewpoints and opinions and expect them to improve the lives and safety of local residents by proposing or amending legislation in the state legislature. That’s called democracy.
        4. You state that the Will Co. incident the offending driver was 20 miles an hour over the speed limit thereby crossing the threshold of being able to be charged as ‘reckless’. So your stated point is that 53mph in a 45mph zone doesn’t meet the criteria of ‘reckless’ ignoring the fact that running a red light is by definition, ‘reckless’. 1/2 point
        By my count you lose this debate by a count of 3 points to 1. You may have a pulse on what you see politically around the county but……………well, there’s no point really in going on. You will respond with more personal attacks so you can be the wife and have the last word.
        I hope and pray that your family will never have to hear how you were recklessly taken from them to have the offender walk away (depending on what the judge says in Sept). It’s obvious to me that there’s a swamp which needs draining in Kane Co, I guess it’s true. All politics are local politics. Now where’d I put my pitchfork and torch?

    • Hang on a second while I put my pitchfork down.
      There is no logic in your response. I agree an officer taking to court a minor traffic offense for 8 miles over (how did they determine she was 8 miles over anyway, was there someone there with a radar gun?) would get laughed out of court but we’re not talking about 8 miles over the speed limit are we? In connection with the 2 ‘minor’ traffic offense we’re talking about loss of life, reckless, criminally negligent actions resulting in loss of life. This is not the rule of law that Kane Co residents believe they have elected to represent their interests. If it is, we will elect representatives that truly represent us. 2 traffic offenses resulting in loss of life in any reasonable mind obtains the threshold of ‘manslaughter’ although that isn’t in the law. So the only application which meets the crime is reckless homicide. Why is it an applicable charge in Will Co. but not Kane Co.? The apparent lack of continuity between the two incidents is illogical and so is your defense of the KCSAO.

      • Dude,

        This is why you’re rabble – you’re incapable of critical thinking and dead wrong about everything. This is my last attempt to explain:

        1. The reckless homicide statute only considers two things. Did somebody die and should the person who caused that death have reasonably known their behavior could or would have lead to that death. It’s not “since your behavior caused a death, it must therefore have been reckless.

        Considering that virtually everybody does it on Randall Road, no one going 8 miles over the speed limit can REASONABLY believe they’d cause a death.

        2. They know how fast she was going either from the accident reconstruction team measuring skid marks or from the vehicle’s computer, or both.

        3. Kane county residents did NOT elect folks to represent what they believe the law should be, they elected them to uphold the law AS IT IS right now. In fact, those elected officials have to swear to do just that. The fact that their constituents are correctly pissed about something does not enter into the equation, because the law must be applied equally and with no emotion.

        4. The Will County driver was doing 75 mph in a 55 mph zone. And 20 mph over the speed limit, something the VAST majority of us won’t do, drastically increases the chances of an accident, and thus a potential death. Thus, that behavior is legally reckless.

  3. If I follow the logic correctly, the Will county driver met one of the standards for “reckless driving” which is 20 mph or more over the posted speed limit. I believe I read he was doing 75 mph in a 55 mph zone. Because of that they followed up with charges of “reckless homicide.”
    In Ms. LousyDriver’s case she was only doing about 8 mph over the posted limit. I mean after all, its hard to scroll through ones Tinder app going much faster than that.
    The problem I have is that I didn’t read anywhere in the statute that says that in order to be charged with reckless “homicide”, the driver has to cited for reckless” driving” by way of a certain speed. Running a red light with pedestrians and other traffic in the vicinity is by itself “reckless.” This driver’s history of traffic violations proves she is a reckless idiot who is driving around as if she is late for her next “wreck.” Kane county needs to grow some balls and send “Ms. Accident Waiting To Happen” a message. This girl will strike again.

    • John,

      Exactly. The Will County driver was doing 75 mph in a 55 mph zone which IS reckless homicide.

      And, short of malicious prosecution, the KCSAO can charge anyone with anything they want. The question is can they win the case in front of a judge? And judges are sworn to uphold the law, which means not taking public sentiment into account.

      • Jeff,

        Well not exactly. Doing 75 mph in a 55 mph zone is reckless “driving.” When there is a death involved it is then easy for the authorities to dovetail the excessive speed into reckless “homicide” charges.
        But why is everyone hung up on the drivers speed? I don’t see anywhere in the statute that requires authorities to tie the drivers speed to the reckless act. You can very easily be reckless while actually doing the speed limit. As I mentioned before, if you are driving at the speed limit and then run a red light with other pedestrians or vehicles in the vicinity, you have committed a very reckless act.
        I am aware that during vehicular accidents these days the first thing that happens is cell phone records are looked at for texting history. Great. So the killer wasn’t texting. Then what was she doing? Because she certainly wasn’t paying attention to the road…or maybe she forget which side the brake pedal is on? Is it not reckless not to apply the brakes to avoid an impact? Everyone who owns a smart phone knows there is so much more that can distract you on phones today besides or other than texting. Has there been a digital forensic examination of her phone? If not then the KCSAO is just not trying very hard.
        What does the KCSAO got to lose? Certainly not as much as Terry and his family lost. The way the statute reads, I don’t believe it would be malicious in the least to prosecute this as reckless “homicide.”

        Running a red light….reckless
        No apparent effort to apply brakes….reckless
        1 person killed…homicide

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