Woman pleads guilty in fatal ATV crash

Woman pleads guilty in fatal ATV crash

URBANA — A Philo woman who admitted she drove an all-terrain vehicle recklessly, causing the death of her cousin, faces up to five years in prison when she's sentenced in May.

Champaign County Judge Richard Klaus on Monday accepted Katheryn Daly's guilty plea to a single count of reckless homicide for causing the death of Annie Daly last Oct. 6.

However, rather than an agreed-upon sentence worked out by the state's attorney and Daly's attorney, Klaus will impose the sentence on May 16.

Defense attorney Mark Lipton asked the judge to reserve several hours for the hearing so he can call multiple witnesses to testify on behalf of Daly.

The veteran defense attorney said he plans to ask that his client, a single mother of one who is employed as a nurse at Carle, be sentenced to probation.

State's Attorney Julia Rietz said she would not object to a sentence of boot camp if the judge decides Daly should go to prison.

Daly, 24, pleaded guilty to the Class 3 felony, admitting that she reformed a reckless act likely to cause great bodily harm or death to another by driving a John Deere Gator after consuming alcohol.

Her cousin, Annie Daly, 19, also of Philo, died as a result of internal injuries she sustained in the accident, which happened near the families' homes south of Philo about 3 a.m. that day.

Laying out the facts for Klaus, Rietz said Katheryn Daly was driving the Gator and Annie Daly was the front seat passenger. There were three others in the back and none of the Gator riders was wearing a seat belt.

Rietz said the group had left a bonfire at a family birthday celebration about 3 a.m. headed for home. Katheryn Daly skidded on wet gravel as she turned from County Road 1700 E on to 600 N. The Gator tipped over and Annie Daly fell out. Katheryn Daly performed CPR on her, reviving her until she could be taken by ambulance to Carle. She died there almost four hours later.

Katheryn Daly admitted she had been drinking alcohol prior to the accident. Her blood alcohol level was 0.13 percent, more than the 0.08 percent required for an Illinois motorist to be presumed intoxicated.

In return for Daly's plea to the reckless homicide, Rietz agreed to dismiss two more serious counts of aggravated driving under the influence which would have carried a potential prison term of between three and 14 years. Probation is an option for both crimes. The prison range for reckless homicide is two to five years.

In a hearing 10 days earlier, Klaus rejected a negotiated plea agreement to a count of reckless homicide that called for Daly to serve a sentence of six months of electronic home detention and 30 months of probation.

Daly remains eligible for electronic home detention should the judge impose a jail sentence.

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Townie24 wrote on March 31, 2014 at 4:03 pm

Looks like Rietz is continuing to go easy on drunk drivers represented by her friend Mark Lipton.  It's interesting to note she's dropping the more serious charges.  While probation is an option on a fatal DUI, the Judge has to find "extraordinary circumstances" in order to grant probation. 

Its also interesting that Rietz wants to give a lighter sentence to a woman who killed someone than was given to the nurse who merely injured a kid about a year or so ago.  Maybe Rietz just doesn't care about DUI's and wants to make our roads more dangerous.

Sid Saltfork wrote on March 31, 2014 at 8:03 pm

Until you know what the family has went through in their loss, and worry; your rant is cruel.  The family lost one dear member; and they do not want to lose another one.  Probation would allow repentence, a child to be with their mother, a job to be held, and a family to heal.  Each case is different.  The prisons are full.  Prisoners in their fifties are being released by the state.  There will be no "go easy" in this case.  The young woman will be reminded all through her life of her poor judgement.  She will have the opportunity to change with her family, and friends viewing over the years.  Until you have a personal loss, or your responsible for a loss; best not rant about whatever "justice" should be according to you.

Best express your opinion in C-U; and not in the southern part of the county also.

Townie24 wrote on April 01, 2014 at 10:04 am

For starters, all parts of the county are important -- contrary to the opinion of many in C-U.  More to the point though, by expressing my opinion in a forum that serves the entire county, I am addressing it in C-U as well.

More to the point though, I do not pretend that this has not been incredibly hard for the entire family.  In fact, I am sure it is doubly so due to the fact that both women involved were from the same family.  The problem though is that by law, one of the factors that must be considered is wether a harsher sentence is necessary in order to deter others who are similarly situated.  DUI is an epidemic not just in IL but in the entire nation.  The statistics show that there's roughly one person killed in a DUI every few minutes.  It is also true that it is extremely rare that the driver is attempting to hurt someone when they drive.  As such, its the crime of DUI as opposed to aggravated DUI that needs to be deterred in my opinion.  Historically, Champaign County has seen that need, going back at least to the time that Difanis was State's Attorney.  Rietz though has consistently taken a softer stance on DUIs.

I do not doubt that this young woman will have to struggle with this the rest of her life.  How many other families will have to go through these tragedies though because of a general sentiment that DUIs are not a serious crime?  Unfortunately, there is still a belief that DUI is not that big a deal even though thousands of people per year are killed by drunk drivers.  Part of this comes from the belief that a DUI is only going to result in a fine and maybe probation or court supervision.  In other words, the courts are reinforcing this belief.

Finally, as to your comment that only those who have already been impacted by DUI should be allowed to express their opinion, I would respectfully disagree.  Every voter certainly has a right given that the State's Attorney is elected.  Furthermore, every person who uses the roads, or has occasion to be near a motor vehicle in operation has the right to express her opinion.  However, if it makes you feel better, my grandfather was nearly killed by a drunk driver.  The doctor's at one point even told us that they doubted he would make it, but fortunately he pulled through after a couple months in the hospital.  My neighbor has his back broken by a drunk driver as well, and my brother committed a DUI though thankfully nobody was hurt.

I will say though that I truly do feel for the family in this case and I wish to apologize if I came off as offensive as I assure you that was not my intention.

Sid Saltfork wrote on April 01, 2014 at 1:04 pm

So you think that a harsh sentence on an employed, young mother with family and community support is going to "deter" others from driving under the influence? 

I understand your opinion; but it seems more like Shira Law than common sense.  Her sentence is not going to influence anyone who drinks at a party, and drives any motorized vehicle.  Circumstances are involved in every human action.  To disregard the circumstances leads to automatic sentencing without any opportunity for redemption, parenting, or support from others in changing behavior.  The only ones who will benefit from a harsh sentence on this young woman are the judge maintaining his "law and order" reputation, and those who favor harsh punishment toward others that they feel superior toward.

I apologize if I appear offensive in my comments regarding common sense in the justice system.  I have seen judges convicted of a DUI remain on the bench, university professors maintain employment, and politicians' offspring excused in Champaign County.  None of them had the circumstances available for positive change as this young woman has at this time.

concerned41 wrote on April 02, 2014 at 9:04 am

You talk about a harsh sentence for an employed, young mother with family and community support.  What about the HARSH sentence that Annie received.  A beautiful, employed 19 year old girl with family and friends that loved her dearly, who had her whole life ahead of her?  

There are consequences for every human action also and Annies consequences were final.   I understand that this is really hard on Annies family because they also love their niece.    It is hard for them to be objective in this case.  I have to wonder if they would pushing for a harsher sentence had it been someone else driving.

To me the Judge is the only one that believes Katheryn Daly deserves a more appropriate sentence.  And the fact that she is a nurse, she should be held to a higher standard.  Her choices have set in motion the consequences for everyone.  Now it is her turn.

Sid Saltfork wrote on April 02, 2014 at 11:04 am

"Now it is her turn"?  Sounds more like Pakistani Islamic justice than American justice.  Hate is hard to reason with.

concerned41 wrote on April 02, 2014 at 4:04 pm

Prejudice is hard to reason with! I have no hate for Katheryn Daly. But let me rephrase what I said so that it might be understood a little better. It is time for this family to have some peace. So when I said it is her turn I mean it is time for this to be over. They need to quit dragging this case out so the family can move on. To me American Justice is a sentence that fits the crime. I'm sure that she never meant for this to happen and that she loved her cousin. But the bottom line is that a beautiful young girl lost her life because of someone elses decision to drive drunk and I agree with the Judges decision that probation and house arrest is not an appropriate sentence.