Joliet — An Orland Park man pleaded guilty Thursday to reckless homicide in the 2017 two-vehicle crash that killed a pregnant woman and her three sons.
On Thursday, George Lenard, attorney for Sean Woulfe, 30, told Will County Judge Dan Rippy that his client decided to plead guilty to causing the reckless homicide of Lindsey Schmidt, 29, her unborn child, and her sons Owen, 6, Weston, 4, and Kaleb, 1.
Schmidt and her children were riding inside of a Subaru Outback that was struck by Woulfe’s truck on July 24, 2017, in Washington Township in eastern Will County.
“He does not want the father to go through another trial,” Lenard told Rippy, referring to Edward Schmidt, Lindsey Schmidt’s husband and father of their children.
The jury trial for Woulfe resulted in a mistrial on March 30 after jurors failed to reach an unanimous verdict..
Woulfe pleaded guilty on Thursday to five of the 16 reckless homicide indictments against him. Each charge referred to all five victims killed in the crash, including Lindsey Schmidt’s unborn child.
Will County Assistant State’s Attorney Jeffrey Tuminello told Rippy that the state’s evidence would show Woulfe’s vehicle was traveling at 83 to 84 mph at least five seconds before crashing into Lindsey Schmidt’s vehicle. The posted speed limit was 55 mph.
Woulfe’s bond was revoked and a Will County sheriff’s deputy arrested him so he could be booked into jail. He has not yet been sentenced.
Woulfe is scheduled for a Nov. 17 court hearing to set the date for his sentencing. A pre-sentence investigation report for Woulfe is slated for completion by Sept. 23.
Rippy’s Sept. 14, 2017, gag order on the case still remains in effect. His order prevents both parties from talking about the case with the media.
During the trial, Norberto Navarro, 30, the state’s key witness, said he saw Woulfe’s truck “going pretty fast” on East Corning Road in Washington Township, flying past a stop sign at an intersection and striking Lindsey Schmidt’s vehicle that was on South Yates Avenue.
Navarro described the sound of the impact as an explosion and saw Lindsey Schmidt’s vehicle roll over.
Navarro was working at a nearby farm in the largely rural area where the crash occurred. He said he ran to the scene to render aid.
Long before the trial, Navarro was the subject of deportation proceedings and Will County prosecutors contacted federal officials because his testimony was critical to the case, Will County State’s Attorney spokeswoman Carole Cheney said. Navarro and his attorney agreed to the use of a material witness bond that would keep Navarro in jail until the conclusion of his testimony, she said.
As a result, Navarro was in jail from Jan. 20 until March 23, when he completed his testimony. His detainment at the jail led to protests and condemnation from 16 state lawmakers and U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly.
After the jury had failed to reach a verdict, and Rippy declared a mistrial, both parties met on May 10 for what’s known as a 402 conference. That is a private meeting held in the judge’s chambers between defense attorneys and prosecutors to discuss the facts of the case. The conference is governed by Illinois Supreme Court Rule 402.
At the end of the conference, the judge may make a recommended sentence if the defendant were to plead guilty.