Conner DUI case in jurorsâ€™ hands
BY LAUREN FITZPATRICK
Feb 22, 2011 01:53PM
Kathie LaFond, mother of DUI victim Michael Langford Jr. walks into the Will County Courthouse Monday morning with her Civil attorney Mark Horwitz. Langford was killed in a car accident last year while LaFond’s boyfriend Cecil Connor was told to drive by Chicago Height’s police even though he had been drinking. Michael R. Schmidt~Sun-Times Media
A Will County jury has begun deliberating the drunken-driving case against a Steger man accused of killing his girlfriendâ€™s 5-year-old son in an early-morning crash last spring.
Cecil Conner Jr. faces two counts of aggravated driving under the influence for the crash May 10 crash. The boy, Michael Langford Jr., was sleeping in the back of the Chevrolet Cavalier.
The boy died after the car Conner was driving slammed into one tree, ricocheted into a cyclone fence and uprooted a pine tree at Carpenter Street and Steger Road. Connerâ€™s blood-alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit.
Conner maintains Chicago Heights officer Chris Felicetti ordered him to drive the Cavalier after his girlfriend and the boyâ€™s mother, Kathie LaFond, was arrested for driving with a suspended license. LaFond was Connerâ€™s designated driver that evening.
Connerâ€™s attorney, Jeff Tomczak, during closing arguments insisted the case is one of â€œentrapment and necessity,â€ arguing Conner only got behind the wheel because Felicetti ordered him to drive and threatened to arrest Conner if he failed to comply. LaFond testified she told Felicetti three times that Conner was drunk, and she was his designated driver.
â€œRemember, it was his son, too,â€ Tomczak said, a reference to LaFond, Conner and Michael living in the same house in Steger.
â€œIf thereâ€™s a mistake in this case, it wasnâ€™t Cecil Connerâ€™s. Donâ€™t hold him accountable for what that police officer did.â€
Prosecutors maintain only one person killed the boy: Conner, the driver of the Cavalier. Assistant Stateâ€™s Attorney Deborah Mills told jurors LaFond and Conner made several inconsistent statements, which casts doubt on their version of events.
She reminded the jury of testimony from a security supervisor at St. James Hospital in Chicago Heights, who rebutted LaFondâ€™s insistence she told Felicetti that Conner was drunk and she was his ride home.
Kevin Kutta said he overheard LaFond talking to Michaelâ€™s godmother in the waiting room at the emergency room where Michael was pronounced dead and admitted to the woman that she pleaded with the officer to let Cecil drive the boy home.
Kutta testified he overheard LaFond telling Michaelâ€™s godmother: â€œâ€™I told the officer, â€˜Please, let Cecil drive my baby home. Thatâ€™s how he got the keys, Thatâ€™s how he got the car, thatâ€™s how he got the baby.â€™â€
Mills also reminded jurors that Conner never pulled over or stopped the car after Felicetti allowed him to drive away.