Friday, May 12, 2017

Knox County Prosecutors Charge Drunk Driver With Attempted Murder In Violent Assault On Bicyclist

Criminal Defendant Jacqueline Wells
In recent years a great deal of attention has been placed on prosecutors for failing to charge at-fault motorists with serious charges and for judges to appropriately punish those motorists for killing bicyclists. In both of those cases the drivers were charged with Aggravated Driving Under the Influence for causing a fatal collision while intoxicated but more serious charges were not pursued and the drunk drivers received small prison sentences. In Chicago, the drunk driver who struck and killed Bobby Cann received only a ten day sentence and the drunk driver that struck and killed Hector Avalos only received a one hundred day sentence. 

The inexcusable and violent assault on Galesburg bicyclist Andrew Tolle has led to prosecutors filing an appropriate series of charges against the motorist. According to reports, Jacqueline Wells was driving her red Jeep on the same road as Mr. Tolle when she began to harass the bicyclist. She then proceeded to pull behind the bicyclist and ram him twice. This threw the bicyclist off of his bike and she then severely injured him when she drove over the bicyclist. Wells proceeded to continue down the road with Mr. Tolle's bicycle under her Jeep. Evidence later suggested that Wells was intoxicated at the time of the crash. Mr. Tolle was treated at a local hospital and then transferred to Peoria for further medical treatment. 

Unlike other cases where serious charges were not brought, Knox County, Illinois prosecutors filed a series of charges, including attempted murder, against Jacqueline Wells. According to local reports, the drunk driver was charged with: 
  • Driving under the influence
  • Attempted murder
  • Aggravated reckless driving
  • Leaving the scene of a personal injury accident
  • Improper lane usage
  • Aggravated battery causing great bodily harm
  • Failure to notify police
  • Failure to render aid.
These are appropriate charges that reflect not only the seriousness of the personal injuries sustained by the bicyclists, but also reflect the depraved, intentional acts of this motorist. She used her vehicle as a weapon with the full intention of hurting the bicyclist. A Jeep of that size is as harmful as a gun and more dangerous that any other weapon used in street crimes. There is no conceivable justification under the law for what she did. It is a positive development to see the Knox County prosecutors choose to treat this crime with the seriousness that it deserves. 

Most importantly, our thoughts and prayers are with Mr. Tolle and his family during this time.