Aurora man gets seven years in DUI hit-and-run crash
By Dan Campana For Sun-Times Media August 21, 2013 1:32PM
Lee R. Patterson III
Updated: September 23, 2013 2:25PM
Belinda Rodriguez, tears in her eyes, struggled to find the words to describe what she felt.
Nearly three years since her daughter, 22-year-old Doreen Cardenas, died after being struck by a van in North Aurora, Rodriguez made another trip to court. On Wednesday, it was to hear Kane County Judge James Hallock sentence Lee R. Patterson, the man who drove the van, to seven years in prison.
Minutes after Hallock’s ruling, Rodriguez tried to explain the impact of what had just happened.
“I’m not sure what’s next for our family ... it hurts too much. I’m scared because I don’t know what’s next,” she said while surrounded by family. “The healing process needs to begin.”
Patterson, of Aurora, pleaded guilty in February to leaving the scene of an accident involving death and aggravated driving under the influence.
Hallock issued the sentence following testimony from both families and arguments by attorneys that stretched over several days earlier this year. Patterson received four years for leaving the scene and three years for the aggravated DUI. He will serve the sentences consecutively because of how the law treats convictions on the combination of charges Patterson admitted to. He likely will spend about four years in prison, based on sentencing rules described by Hallock. Patterson was immediately taken into custody after the hearing.
Authorities said Patterson, who had been drinking, hit Cardenas and Pedro Navarro on Grant Street in North Aurora during the early morning hours of Oct. 25, 2010. Their bodies were found in the street when police arrived. Cardenas died in the incident and Navarro received significant injuries.
Patterson fled the scene, but surrendered to police hours later. He faces a wrongful death lawsuit brought by Cardenas’ family. The case remains pending.
Glenn Sowa, Patterson’s attorney, said Patterson was prepared for the possibility of prison.
“I think he was resigned and repentant,” Sowa explained. “It was a fair sentence.”
Sowa had sought probation, but acknowledged the law required Hallock to issue a prison term because he found no “extraordinary circumstances” to give Patterson probation.
Rodriguez said she would have liked to see Patterson receive more time in prison. However, she wants his time behind bars to serve a purpose other than to have him locked up.
“Hopefully, [over] these years, he repents for what he’s done,” she said.