Motorist gets probation in chase that injured Earlville officer

Roy ordered to serve 180 days in La Salle County Jail

Jaquaya M. Roy

An Indiana woman narrowly avoided prison Thursday for an April high-speed chase that critically injured an Earlville police officer.

Jaquaya M. Roy, 24, of Bloomington, Indiana (also listed in Chicago), had entered a blind plea in January to one count of aggravated fleeing and eluding, a Class 4 felony carrying 1-3 years in prison or, alternatively, some combination of jail time and/or probation.

At a sentencing hearing Thursday, Roy asked for probation and said she “acted out of impulse” when she fled the traffic stop at the behest of a passenger, an armed parolee who told her, “Go go go.” Earlville Police Officer Jesus Alonzo sustained multiple injuries, including a broken neck, in the resulting pursuit.

“I’d like to apologize for my reckless behavior and driving (the night of the offense),” Roy told Chief Judge H. Chris Ryan Jr. “I realize (now) how much I’ve been through the past five or six years.”

Ryan said he struggled balancing Alonzo’s injuries with Roy’s “minimal” criminal history before deciding against a trip to the Department of Corrections. The judge instead settled on 30 months felony probation plus 180 days in La Salle County Jail.

“She’s going to jail, that goes without saying,” Ryan ruled, and then immediately denied Roy’s request for home confinement instead of lockup.

Roy was charged after an April 10 police chase begun when a sheriff’s deputy initiated a traffic stop on a speeding vehicle. While the deputy was speaking with Roy, the driver, he smelled burnt cannabis and spotted several open containers of alcohol.

A passenger was a parolee named Kevin Chester who instructed Roy, “Go go go,” at which she sped from the scene. Chester, who was returned to prison and scheduled for parole in June, may have been armed; police recovered a gun that may have been thrown from the vehicle.

The resulting chase reached speeds of more than 100 mph, including in a residential area of Mendota where the posted limit is 45 mph.

During the pursuit, Alonzo crashed his cruiser on U.S. 34 near the Meriden Township building. Alonzo fractured two vertebrae in his neck and suffered a concussion. He was not paralyzed but he continues to recover and has not been cleared for active duty.

At sentencing Thursday, Assistant La Salle County State’s Attorney Matt Kidder asked for 18 months in prison, saying the injuries to Alonzo thrust Roy’s misconduct past “run of the mill” high-speed pursuits.

“Aggravated fleeing doesn’t get much more serious than what happened here,” Kidder said, arguing that probation would deprecate the severity of the offense.

But Peru defense attorney Doug Olivero argued Roy’s clean record was one of only several indicators she was a good candidate for rehabilitation. Olivero said the evidence suggested the armed Chester “induced” the offense, making it highly unlikely Roy would re-offend.

And while mental health records are under court seal, Olivero made an open-court reference to Roy having survived an act of domestic violence that scarred her to where she viewed Chester’s command as an obey-or-die scenario.

“It’s not an excuse,” Olivero allowed, “it’s an explanation. This explains why she did what she did.”

Alonzo, who still is convalescing, was reached for comment through his commanding officer, Earlville Police Chief Darin Crask. As of Thursday afternoon, Alonzo did not avail himself of the opportunity to comment.

La Salle County State’s Attorney Todd Martin said he respected Ryan’s ruling but said he had hoped for a sentence of prison.

“But in the judge’s defense, the statute says there is a presumption of probation over prison,” Martin said. “Judge Ryan was candid in saying it could go either way and, while it’s not the outcome we wanted, we completely understand what the sentence was.”