Probation or prison: Sentencing argument in fatal DUI case

Probation or prison: Sentencing argument in fatal DUI case

JOLIET – A judge will decide next month if a Monee man will receive prison or probation for a 2013 driving under the influence crash that killed an elderly Mokena couple.

Judge Sarah Jones heard arguments Tuesday for the sentencing of John L. Wiesch, 43. Wiesch, who pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated driving under the influence, faces six to 28 years in prison, but could receive probation if the judge found "extraordinary circumstances" make incarceration unjust. Wiesch is a single father to two girls – ages 13 and 9.

"His wife left him and the kids in January [2013] and if that changed him in such a dramatic way, none of us would be here today," Will County Assistant State's Attorney Dan Walsh said.

On Sept. 26, 2013, Wiesch's Ford F-250 ran a stop sign at LaGrange and Pauling roads near Frankfort and struck the side of a 2013 Toyota Avalon. William Slager, 84, died at the scene and his wife, Harriet Slager, 82, died from her injuries the next day.

"The defendant initially concealed to police he was driving [and] said another person was driving the vehicle," Walsh told Jones. Witnesses said Wiesch was alone in the pickup.

Walsh also noted Wiesch was arrested for driving under the influence in 2007 in Indiana, but pleaded guilty to a charge of reckless driving when the case went to court.

"Instead of taking advantage of that break, he drove again with fatal consequences to two wonderful people," Walsh said.

The Slagers had been married for 64 years. Despite losing his right arm 40 years ago, Bill worked as a bus driver for a Christian school after he retired from his career as a garbageman. Harriet was a hospice volunteer, led Bible study groups and loved hosting company for dinner.

Defense attorney Glenn Jazwiec argued Wiesch has not violated the conditions of his bond – drinking alcohol or driving – while he has been on bond for three years.

"He understands the gravity of this offense ... he was mired in depression and self-pity when this occurred," Jazwiec said. "It changed his life for the worse and the better. He's taken a positive direction to be a better father because these young girls don't have [anyone else]."

Original Article www.theherald-news.com

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