DUI defense atty: Cop should be on trial

February 14, 2011 2:56:44 PM PST
As Cecil Conner's DUI trial begins, his attorney and the mother of the 5-year-old killed in the crash blame the police who let Conner drive.

Conner is accused of driving drunk when he crashed a car into a tree last May, killing 5-year-old Michael Langford, in Steger. Opening statements began Monday in the trial.

The assistant state's attorney argued that Conner is the only one responsible for the deadly crash and his blood alcohol level was nearly three times the legal limits. However, his defense attorney argued that Conner only drove because a police officer told him to.

By all accounts, Conner was drunk when he got behind the wheel on May 10. His girlfriend at the time, Katie LaFond, was driving him home with her son in the car when LaFond was arrested by Chicago Heights police for driving on a suspended license. The officer allowed Conner to drive the car from there and he crashed, killing Langford.

"But for that arrest, but for the directions that he gave Cecil, Michael Langford would be alive today," said Jeff Tomczak, Cecil Connor's attorney.

Tomczak said the officer should be on trial, not his client. LaFond agrees. She said she told the officer Langford, whom she is no longer with, was in no shape to drive.

"I am the designated driver. I am the one driving. He's drunk. He cannot drive my car. My kid is in the backseat sleeping. He said everything would be under control and it wasn't," LaFond said. "I think the cops should be charged with it, and not my boyfriend. I lost my kid because of the cops. He would have been here today with me."

Police said there was no indication Conner was drunk before the crash.

Conner faces two counts of DUI that contributed to a death. "This is his first offense. He has never been in no trouble in 23 years," said Linda Connor, defendant's mother.

LaFond has filed a civil suit against Chicago Heights police.

"If they would have told Katie take the car home and take care of this, make sure we don't catch you out here again, this never would have happened," said Mark Horwitz, LaFond's attorney.

LaFond has been subpoenaed by prosecutors to testify. She could take the stand Tuesday. The trial is expected to last a week.