Before a packed courtroom Thursday, a man found guilty but mentally ill of first-degree murder last year for causing a 2020 crash near Hebron that killed one man and left another with life-altering injuries was sentenced to 31 years in prison.
William Bishop, 44, sat stoically as McHenry County Judge Michael Coppedge expressed remorse for the families and told Bishop he was not “a bad person,” but he acted selfishly when he deliberately crashed into an oncoming work van.
“I have no ability to turn back the hands of time (to) the 10 seconds that changed the lives of virtually everyone in this room,” Coppedge said, adding that no sentence will ever “bring closure” to the families of the victims.
Bishop, who lived in Chicago at the time of the crash, said he was hearing voices and was in the throes of a psychotic episode when he took a drive out west on May 18, 2020, to clear his mind.
He said he was attempting to commit suicide when he accelerated and crossed the centerline of Vanderkarr Road and struck the van driven by Jason Miller, 41, of McHenry. The crash killed Miller and severely injured his passenger, Rory Fiali, 58, also of McHenry.
In asking for the maximum sentence, Assistant State’s Attorney Ashley Romito said while Bishop may suffer with mental illness, on that day and in the weeks prior, he had been self-medicating with alcohol and marijuana. She also said drug paraphernalia was found in his Jeep at the time of the crash.
Family members of Fiali and Miller tearfully spoke of their great pain and loss since the crash.
Miller’s widow, Jaime Miller, with whom he has two young daughters, said Jason was her “best friend” and a “loving husband” and that her “pain and heartbreak” will never end.
She cried as she spoke of hearing their two little girls cry and say, “I just miss Daddy.”
At Christmas time, the children said all they wanted to ask Santa Claus for was “their dad back.” She said her daughters ask her who will teach them to ride a bike and who will go with them to daddy-daughter dances.
When the police came to her home that day and told her that her husband was dead, Miller said she was in “complete shock” and could not comprehend what they were saying.
“He was taken too soon,” she said describing her husband as “kind hearted” and someone always “willing to help anybody.”
“We loved him so much, and he loved us,” Jaime Miller said. “Grief will never end.”
A family member read a letter submitted by Jason Miller’s mom, Kathleen Lees. Since his death, Lees said, she is so depressed it is hard some days to get off of her couch. No mother should ever bury their child, she said, describing him as a “good man” and a “gentle soul.”
Her pain is “immeasurable. ... This will never end,” Lees said. “I can’t get over the level of (Bishop’s) selfishness.”
Members of Fiali’s family also spoke of the serious injuries he suffered, including a broken jaw and ribs held together with metal plates and pins. He is blind in his left eye, has limited mobility on his right side and has suffered brain damage, his wife, Bonnie Fiali, said tearfully.
She said she and her husband worked hard throughout their 38-year marriage, bought their dream home and had looked forward to enjoying their “golden years” together. Bishop’s selfish acts have taken that away from them.
Her husband, who was once a hard worker and helped take care of their children, has returned to a rehabilitation center. He is angry, his personality has changed dramatically, and he often lashes out at her. His level of brain damage is still unknown.
Bonnie Fiali is angry, sad and “finding it hard to stay positive anymore,” she said.
“Rory is in his own prison for the rest of his life,” and Bishop should be in a prison the rest of his life as well, she said.
Fiali’s mother, Roberta Fiali, also spoke, describing her son as a child when he was exuberant, independent and eager to learn. But today, he can’t tie his own shoes, dress or bathe himself. He cannot communicate and is considered legally blind.
“There is not a day that goes by that I don’t pray for a miracle,” she said. “There are no winners in this room. (This courtroom) is full of human tragedy due to one man’s selfish act. Today, this courtroom is filled with a sea of loss.”
Bishop’s friends, family and a doctor spoke of his bouts with mental illness, his good character and his time as a competitive swimmer, building his business and always wanting to help others.
His mother, Suzanne Bishop of Barrington, asked Coppedge for leniency and said her son is a “compassionate” man with a good heart who “truly does not have a mean, vicious bone in his body.” What happened that day was because he was mentally ill, she said.
She said since the crash, he has been taking his medications regularly and doing better, and if he were allowed to be free from prison, he would continue taking care of his mental illness.
She tearfully apologized to Miller’s and Fiali’s families.
“My family has prayed for you everyday,” she said. “We are not bad people. My son is a kind and gentle soul. He has never hurt anyone his whole life.”
Her son was the kid who sat “with the kid who sat at a table at lunch alone” and “attentive” to those who were sad, she said.
William Bishop also apologized to the families and said when he is released from prison, he would teach the importance of properly treating mental health and not self-medicating with drugs and alcohol. He also said he would advocate for those suffering mental illness.
“I am devastated by what happened,” Bishop said. “I feel terrible. ... If there was something I could do to change the tragic events of that day, I would.”
Clarification: This story has been updated to clarify that Rory Fiali was severely injured in the crash and left with limited mobility on his right side.