Clerk pleads not guilty in fatal DUI crash

March 29, 2011 3:04:11 PM PDT
The clerk of the village of Lynwood was in court Tuesday morning to face charges in a deadly crash that killed a woman days before her birthday.

Roel "Roy" Valle, 64, is accused of driving under the influence at the time of the February crash.

Valle pleaded not guilty to multiple counts of aggravated DUI and one count of reckless homicide. Prosecutors say he was drinking at a political fundraiser before getting behind the wheel of a village-issued vehicle and driving the wrong way down a major road.

Valle came to court in a wheelchair and though he entered a plea of not guilty, his attorney painted a portrait of remorse.

"He is grief stricken about the loss here. He is beside himself to say the least," said Raymond Garza, Valle's attorney.

It was in the early morning hours of February 4 that police say Valle was driving drunk in a village of Lynwood vehicle.

Investigators say he drove the wrong way down Illinois Route 394 near Ford Heights and struck head on a vehicle carrying 32-year-old Melikah Little, killing the mother of four.

Little's family is now suing Valle and the village of Lynwood.

"There are four young girls without a mother. Their entire lives are absolutely shattered from this," said Joe Vitu, Little Family's attorney.

Little's husband was in another vehicle behind his wife and was also injured in the multi-vehicle crash.

On Tuesday, Valle's attorney requested that his client, who's free on $250,000 bond, be allowed to travel across state lines to see doctors in Indiana.

"He suffered a terrible fracture to his leg and his arm, and there's some infective process going on with his leg. Hopefully that will resolve," said Garza.

Valle was elected to his second, four-year term as village clerk in 2009 and also served four terms as a village trustee.

Prosecutors allege that before the crash Valle had driven the village-issued 2008 Ford Taurus to an open-bar political fundraiser and then continued drinking at another bar.

Melikah Little was sitting in the passenger seat and her friend who was driving was also charged with DUI. But the Little Family's attorney says that has no bearing on what happened.

"She wasn't speeding. She wasn't acting in any manner in so far as the time of this collision that caused this accident," said Vitu.

ABC7 left a message for Lynwood Mayor Eugene Williams but did not hear back. Valle's attorney said he believes his client is still employed with the village. His job as clerk is an elected position.

If convicted, Valle faces up to 14 years behind bars.