The Chainlink

*Update 11/17/2015* Hector Avalos, 28, Western/Ogden, 12/6/2013 :-(

[expletives deleted.....]

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/10/hector-avalos-chicago_n_44...

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chi-driver-arrest...

As usual, lead poisoning victims have got to the comments first, so do yourself a favor and don't read them.

Now comes the usual horrid wait to find out who it was, if it's someone any of us knows.....

Update.. Hector Avalos of Cermak/Wood area.  My condolences to his friends and family.

Update 11/17/2015

This is a heartbreaking decision. The judge blamed the victim for wearing dark clothes and referred to the crash as an "accident" but seemed to ignore the fact that Robert's blood alcohol level was 0.152 percent when he got behind the wheel, nearly twice the legal level of 0.08.

“[Vais] has to face the fact that what he did was wrong,” Avalos’ mother Ingrid Cossio said. “He gets a new beginning, a new life, and a new chance to be with his family, so I hope he takes advantage of that opportunity. I don’t get that with my son.”

Full Streetsblog Article:
http://chi.streetsblog.org/2015/11/17/driver-who-killed-cyclist-hec...

(seems like it would be a basic courtesy to note that a posting was updated/modified by an admin and not the original poster-h)

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Jason Jenkins at ActiveTrans is helping to coordinate community response.  If there is any chance you can attend proceedings, please reach out to him: 

jason@activetrans.org.

Sentencing is scheduled for November 17, 2015 at 11:00 a.m. in Courtroom 702 (Judge Nicholas Ford) at 26th & California. 

Robert Vais plead guilty recently to Aggravated DUI in the death of Hector Avalos. It is a Class 2 Felony and carries a sentence of 3-14 years with only a possibility of probation and fines of up to $25,000.00. 
At the hearing the Prosecutor, Assistant State's Attorney Shawn Concannon noted that the breathalyzer taken at 2:06 a.m. (over two hours after the fatal crash) was .118. However, THE BLOOD DRAW TAKEN AT ST. ANTHONY'S AFTER THE CRASH CAME BACK AT .152 ACCORDING TO THE TOXICOLOGIST. That is nearly double the legal limit of .08. In other words, Vais was at a high level of intoxication at the time of the crash than his breathalyzer over two hours after the crash. Two hours later he was still at .118. 
At the hearing Vais acknowledge on the record that he was pleading guilty of his own free will and understood that it was a "blind plea" meaning there was no guarantee as to what his sentence would be. Judge Ford will determine his sentence. 
Sentencing is scheduled for November 17, 2015 at 11:00 a.m. in Courtroom 702 (Judge Nicholas Ford) at 26th & California. 

Sentencing is scheduled for tomorrow, TUESDAY, November 17, 2015 at 11:00 a.m. in Courtroom 702 (Judge Nicholas Ford) at 26th & California. 

Thanks for posting the update Mike. 100 days is nothing. This is tragic and wrong. How could Hector's mothers words mean nothing to this judge? 

Awful ruling by an awful judge.

Suddenly asking for a plea deal by Ryne San Hamel is going to become very attractive to him and Sam Adam. .

I hope this encourages Anita Alverez to refuse to offer any kind of plea deal or to accept any offer from San Hamel or his lawyer.

http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/no-plea-bargain-for-ryne

If you haven't signed this petition, sign it.  If you've already signed it, sign it again and hope that Anita Alverez gets the message.

Whether it's a plea deal or a trial, the judge ultimately sentences the defendant.  I haven't seen anything regarding what the State actually recommended to the Judge sentence-wise, but this wasn't a fully negotiated plea, and my assumption from what I have read is that the State was pushing for more than the 100 days.  Defendants obviously often get a break in sentencing from judges for pleading out and not forcing a trial, but Judge Ford was ultimately the individual that determined only 100 days (rather than multiple years) was warranted.       

The best way to ensure a criminal judge refuses to enter these type of lenient sentences is to pack the court room with cyclists during the sentencing hearing, and to make sure judges running for retention after entering these type of lenient sentences are called out for it publicly as much as possible.  Judges have to get that these type of sentences are costing them votes from the cycling community in elections.   

"Recklessness" is too kind a word. This person got in his car to drive to a party where he knew he would get drunk and from which he knew he'd drive home. He made the conscious decision to prioritize his own perceived convenience over the safety of the rest of us. That's intent in my book.

This decision cost Hector Avalos his life and it cost Vais--in comparison--almost nothing at all.

But unless there is some significant penalty for killing people with your car, it will continue to be too common.

There will be no such significant penalty so long as the loudest voices in the Chicago cycling community call for "letting the process run its course" and cooperating with the so-called prosecutors who agree to these nothing pleas. We should be organizing a sit-in at Anita Alvarez's office in protest of her office's agreement to this sentence--a fraction of a fraction of the minimum guideline sentence for this crime.

Vais will do less time than people get for smoking a joint. Jana Kinsman's assailants were not even cursorily investigated while the CPD sends agents undercover for months to watch NATO protestors. The man who was caught on video beating a cyclist on Lawrence in July--who identity police claimed (at the time) to know--is walking around free as a bird, having suffered not the slightest consequence. What has cooperation gotten us? It only legitimizes these ridiculous charades. Enough is enough.

I don't disagree with any of your points, but I'm posting here to stress the Judge's role in all of this.  Greater pressure on the State's Attorneys to prosecute these cases to the full extent possible and seek sentences with teeth (to the degree they didn't do that here, which is hard to say, as we don't know yet from what I've read what their recommended sentence rage was at the 402 plea conference) is warranted.  If a Judge is just going to disregard the recommendation and find dark clothing constitutes a mitigating factor (one of the worst parts of Judge Ford's comments in my mind), then the State's efforts will still fall flat.

Point being, Judge Ford is an elected official, and one of the reasons election of Judge's occurs is for the public to express outrage at this type of sentencing.  When he's up for retention (2016), people should make noise about this    

 

I agree, and if anyone needs additional reasons to vote against Ford, he worked with police torturer Jon Burge as a prosecutor, presenting confessions in court which had been extracted by torture, and later, as a judge, failed to recuse himself from a case involving his own role as prosecutor--see http://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/blind-justices/Content?oid=923777 for details.

That said, no judge in Cook County has lost a retention election since 1990. So I suspect that the prosecutor's office will be more responsive to public pressure.

Yeah, I'm not trying to give anyone false hope that Judge Ford is going to be knocked off the bench by the cycling community alone.  The Trib. has tried to pick off some of the absolutely horrible judges by running several editorials leading up to votes, and have never been successful.    

That said, no one likes to see their name in the press in a negative light, especially at election time.  When he's up for retention, and the media is tuned in to arguments as to why or why not a certain judge should be a no vote, a massive PR campaign to shed light on these type of rulings might result in something positive.  If anything, it sends a message that these type of rulings will create a thorn in the judge's side from the cycling community every election cycle.     

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