Carly A. Rousso, 18, of the 2300 block of Woodpath Lane in Highland Park is charged with misdemeanor DUI after she crossed a sidewalk in the 700 block of Central Avenue in Highland Park. Highland Park City Manager David Knapp announced the misdemeanor charge in a press release. Just before the press release from the city manager, a letter from Mayor Nancy R. Rotering expressed that the Lake County State’s Attorney decision to release the driver with no restrictions was a mistake and that the city council is demanding an explanation.
Letter from the Mayor
To the Residents of Highland Park:
Our community continues to grieve over the tragic death of 5-year old Jaclyn Santos – Sacramento on Labor Day. As you may already know, Jaclyn was struck and killed by an 18-year old driver while she was walking with her family near downtown Highland Park. Her mother and younger brothers sustained injuries as well.
This case, like other similar cases, is handled by the Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office. The decision to file charges is made by the Lake County State’s Attorney.
The City Council, staff and I are frustrated by the delayed manner in which this case is being handled. Releasing the driver with no restrictions was a decision of the State’s Attorney. This was a mistake and we are demanding an explanation.
We continue to urge the Lake County State’s Attorney, in the strongest possible terms, to conclude its investigation and evaluation of the evidence and bring charges against the driver as appropriate. Without this vital next step, due process cannot proceed and our community cannot begin to work through this tragedy.
This case must be brought to its proper, legal conclusion. All of the facts should be and must be shared with the community.
In response to this tragedy, the community has initiated a fund raising effort to provide the economic support the Santos Family needs at this time. The HP Community Foundation is serving as a repository to receive tax-deductible donations and manage distribution to the family. Donations should be noted to the benefit of the Santos Family and mailed to the Highland Park Community Foundation, PO Box 398, Highland Park, Illinois. Donations can also be on-line at the following web address:
Highland Park Mayor
Lake County State Attorney Michael Waller’s office has been under scrutiny and drew national media attention in a Waukegan murder case with three jury convictions of Juan Rivera, 39, and the subsequent clearing in Fall 2011 of Rivera after contradicting DNA evidence ruled semen evidence in the case was not his. Critics claimed that overzealous prosecutors and detectives relied more on confessions and testimonies and not enough on DNA evidence.
The Lake County legal system is controlled by a small group, almost all Republicans. Waller, who has held the job since 1990 recently announced his retirement. Waller’s wife, Jane, is a former Lake County judge. Of the 36 sitting judges in Lake County, three are Democrats. Most are former prosecutors.
The state’s attorney’s office has been urged by Waukegan activist Keith Turner to increase racial diversity in county offices.
Chris Kennedy, running for State’s Attorney, has recently proposed a Conviction Integrity Unit in Lake County to ensure that justice is done by testing and acting on DNA evidence.
Lake County Assistant State’s Attorney Ken LaRue were working methodically on the case and that the charges were filed on Monday — the day of the incident. The charges are necessary to obtain blood samples from the suspect, Carly A. Rousso. LaRue did not know why the charges were not made public until Wednesday. The suspect’s charges could still be upgraded to felony charges as the investigation continues.
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