KANKAKEE — Carmella S. Larson was sentenced to six years in prison for driving under the influence of alcohol when the car she was driving crashed into another car in which a passenger, 15-year-old Kameron Allison, of Reddick, was killed in May 2016.
Judge Ronald J. Gerts announced the sentence at the end of a 2½-hour hearing in Kankakee County Court on Thursday. There were 75 people in the courtroom.
Under state sentencing guidelines, Larson must serve 85 percent of the sentence. She will be on parole for three years after her release. She also will have to pay fines and court costs. Larson has 30 days to appeal the sentence.
Gerts said Larson must surrender at the Jerome Combs Detention Center on Aug. 15.
The 36-year-old Larson was found guilty by a jury of aggravated driving under the influence of alcohol in April.
According to investigators, Larson and her then boyfriend, Nathan Lockhart, had been drinking on-and-off most of the day May 15, 2016, and were headed back to St. Anne after visiting friends in East Brooklyn, located in Grundy County.
Larson was southbound on 19000W Road, and the Allison brothers, Kyuss and Kameron, were westbound on Illinois Route 17. The Allison vehicle had the right of way.
The stop sign on 19000W Road had been knocked down and was found by investigators the night of the crash in a nearby ditch. According to the state’s rules of the road, even if there is not a stop sign at a T intersection, the driver approaching the roadway that doesn’t have the right of way must stop.
“Now we can heal,” Trina Wesemann said after the hearing. She is the mother of Kameron and Kyuss, his older brother. Kyuss was driving home to Reddick after spending the weekend with their father, Jake Allison, in Bourbonnais. Kyuss Allison suffered serious injuries.
Jake Allison said the family appreciated the job the State’s Attorney’s Office did during the past three-plus years.
“We are eager to take that next step in closure. This was a key day in that process,” Jake Allison said.
Both mentioned in their impact statements what the loss of Kameron has meant and the toll it has taken on Kyuss.
Kloe Allison, the younger sister of Kameron and Kyuss, talked about all that was left of her dead brother were pictures and what-ifs.
She had two questions for Larson: “Was it worth it drinking and then getting behind the wheel of a car? Are you crying because you killed a child or you will be going to jail?”
Larson said she accepted full responsibility for her actions.
“There are no excuses,” she said. “Over the past three years, I have wished every day I could go back. It will forever haunt me.
“This accident has changed so many lives ... one day, I hope you can find it in your hearts to forgive me.”
State’s Attorney Jim Rowe asked Gerts for the maximum sentence of 14 years ending his argument for the judge to send a message to people of Kankakee County, to the people who drive and drink.
“I’m glad she is going to prison; she belongs there, but I am disappointed the laws of our state do not look at DUI deaths for what they are: murder,” Rowe said in a statement to the Daily Journal.
Rowe prosecuted the case along with Assistant State’s Attorney Val Gunderson.
Larson was represented by Assistant Public Defender Emile Capriotti.
Capriotti argued Larson should be sentenced to probation for extraordinary circumstances. Those included no criminal record before this arrest. She is the mother of two young sons she supports. At the time of the accident, the stop sign was missing. She quit drinking. She is remorseful.
“She didn’t go out to try and hurt someone. Carmella Larson is a good person who did a bad thing,” Capriotti said.