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Local

Judge sentences man in crash that killed teen

BY MEGAN EDWARDS medwards@nwherald.com

ST. CHARLES - A Lake Zurich man was sentenced to 7 1/2 years in prison Friday for killing a Wonder Lake girl in a 2003 car crash on Route 72 and Big Timber Road.

In July, James Stitt, 24, pleaded guilty to reckless homicide in connection with the crash that killed 17-year-old Caitlin Weese of Wonder Lake.

Weese's family attended the sentencing with somber expressions.

Her father, Wayne Weese, said 7 1/2 years was not enough jail time.

"A life sentence to us wouldn't be enough," he said, choking back tears. "But what are you going to do? Caitlin was an angel."

Weese said the laws must change to reflect harsher sentences for drunken-driving offenses. It isn't fair that Stitt could have received only a minimum sentence of 48 months of probation, he said.

"The legislators have missed the boat on this one, and they need to get on top of it," he said.

Kane County Circuit Judge Patricia Piper Golden sentenced Stitt.

She did not give Stitt the minimum sentence because he had been arrested twice before on drunken-driving charges, she said. She sympathized with Weese's family, but said no amount of time in jail would bring Weese back.

"The only authority I have is to give him a fair sentence," she said, addressing Weese's family. "It isn't to return her to you."

Stitt must serve at least 85 percent of his sentence, Golden said. Stitt has been in custody since the May 22, 2003, accident. That time will count toward his sentence.

Stitt's lawyer, Warren Breslin, said Stitt will have 30 days to decide whether he wants to appeal the sentence.

"He's very emotional about it," he said. "This whole case is devastating to him. He really feels sorry."

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