A Moline man, accused of driving drunk in April and injuring a woman in a head-on collision, was sentenced Wednesday to nearly four years in a state prison.
Rock Island County Judge Frank R. Fuhr sentenced Jacob Elliott, 24, Moline, to 42 months in prison and a year of mandatory supervised release during an afternoon hearing. Elliott pleaded guilty in September to aggravated driving under the influence as part of a negotiation with the county State's Attorney's Office. The possible sentence was capped at nine years as part of the agreement. He must serve 85 percent of the sentence.
The criminal case was the result of the April 24 collision in Moline that left Kristine Peterson with a fractured sternum and ankle, according to authorities. Elliott was accused striking Peterson's vehicle as she drove to work at the Quad City International Airport. The collision happened early that morning in the 2400 block of Avenue of the Cities. Elliott was accused of having a blood alcohol content of .268.
Before Fuhr handed down the sentence, he heard from Peterson, Elliott, other members of Peterson's family, from Assistant State's Attorney Steven Cichon and Elliott's attorney, Dan Dalton. During a sentencing, both sides argue for what they believe is the appropriate sentence. Cichon asked for eight years. Dalton argued for probation, for which Elliott was eligible. The judge's decision was also based on a pre-sentence investigation report, which includes information on a defendant's background and is designed to help a judge determine the appropriate sentence.
"I'm thankful that I am here to tell you what you've done to my life," Peterson, 52, Moline, said from the stand. She was reading a victim impact statement she had written. Such statements are frequently part of a sentencing hearing.
Those effects include ongoing medical and mental issues and losses of time and resources for herself and her family, she said.
Peterson said that her medical issues include a blood clot in her leg that formed after the accident and ongoing pain from her injuries. She has a permanent mark, called a tattoo bruise, on her ankle because of her injury there.
She has problems driving now, she said. When she is faced with oncoming traffic, she often has to pull over until it passes. Other issues behind the wheel include that Peterson won't drive in the inner lane any more.
Sometimes, when she tries to sleep, she sees headlights coming at her, Peterson read from the stand.
The crash has affected her quality of life in other ways, she said.
"My summer? Completely gone," Peterson said. "No quality time with my daughters."
She lost time at work, she said. She lost her car, which she owned, and now has higher insurance and a car payment. She has incurred expenses because of the crash, including medical equipment to help her move.
Peterson's was one of several victim impact statements read into the record during Wednesday's hearing. Others, from her daughters and her siblings, spoke about the fear they felt when they heard Peterson had been hurt, of the time and effort they used to help her recover and to be with her, and the impact of the crash on her physical and mental health -- including her loss of mobility, her pain and her fear while driving.
When given a chance to speak, Elliott apologized in a brief statement. He said he'd made a mistake and was remorseful.
"I am truly sorry," Elliott said.
Cichon told Fuhr that Elliott failed to take responsible actions the night of the crash and was not rehabilitated after court supervision for a previous DUI.
In that 2013 misdemeanor case, he received 12 months of court supervision, which he successfully completed, according to court records.
Among Dalton's arguments for his client were that Elliott had little criminal history, had completed nearly 40 hours of alcohol treatment as of Wednesday, has not been drinking and has been working. He contended his client made a mistake, but that Elliott was not a bad person.
Cichon also argued that Elliott be taken into custody immediately, while Dalton asked that his client be allowed to report at a later date so he had time to tie up his affairs.
Fuhr ruled Elliott could turn himself in on March 20.