Jeffrey Hutsell, 53, and Sara Hutsell, 52, were found guilty Saturday of three out of four charges related to a drinking party their son held in the basement of their Deerfield home last Oct. 13, 2006 — the night of Deerfield High School’s homecoming football.
Endangering the life or health of a minor: guilty
Attempting to obstruct justice by providing police with false information: guilty
Obstruction of justice by tampering with evidence: not guilty
The Hutsells’ 18-year-old son, Jonathan, threw a party that prosecutors argue was attended by at least 29 teenagers. Around 11:30 p.m., two 18-year-olds were killed in a one-car crash at the end of the Hutsells’ driveway. Ross Trace of Riverwoods, a senior at Deerfield High, and Daniel Bell of Bannockburn, a 2006 Deerfield graduate, were killed and three other teen passengers were injured when Bell drove into a tree, returning to the party at the Hutsell house. Deerfield police investigated the accident and reported it was caused by alcohol consumption, marijuana use and excessive speed.
A number of teens admitted to drinking at the time, but the Hutsells claimed throughout the trial that they were unaware that minors were consuming alcohol. The Hutsells were upstairs during the party watching a baseball game. Some teens testified they remembered seeing Jeffrey Hutsell in the basement, with alcohol clearly present. Other teens claimed the alcohol was hidden and that Jeffrey Hutsell never came down to the basement.
Prior arrest information of Jonathan Hutsell in January and June 2006 for charges of underage drinking were allowed as evidence in the court case.