With head in his hands and his father leaning over him, it appeared Onofrio J. Lorusso was in a world of hurt before pleading guilty to killing the person one of his attorneys called his “best friend.”
On Wednesday afternoon, Lorusso, 19, of 4N891 Honey Hill Circle, Wayne, pleaded guilty to aggravated homicide, which carries a three- to 14-year sentence; two counts of aggravated driving under the influence, which each carry a three- to seven-year sentence; and aggravated driving under the influence of alcohol, which carries a one- to three-year sentence.
Lorusso would also face $25,000 in fines for each count and supervised release.
The charges stem from a early morning June 14 crash that killed Lorusso’s friend, Cameron Godee, 17, of West Chicago. Godee was the front-seat passenger in Lorusso’s sport utility vehicle; two back-seat passengers also suffered serious injuries in the crash.
While Lorusso, a graduate of St. Charles East High School, agreed to the four charges, his attorneys, Gary Johnson of Aurora and Vincent Solano of Lisle, could not come to a sentencing agreement with the Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office.
Kane County Assistant State’s Attorney David Belshan asked Kane County Associate Judge Timothy Q. Sheldon to revoke Lorusso’s bail and move him back into the custody of the Kane County Sheriff’s Department.
“He is no longer presumed innocent,” Belshan said after Lorusso pleaded guilty. Belshan said with his guilty plea, Lorusso almost certainly will be going to prison unless “extenuating circumstances” are found to give him probation.
“He has no criminal history ... but someone was killed and two others were seriously injured,” Belshan said.
Johnson said with Lorusso’s lack of criminal history, he asked the judge to allow Lorusso to finish his semester at Robert Morris College. The semester ends April 29.
Shelden agreed, but said he wanted Lorusso back in court at 9 a.m. April 30 to go back into the custody of the Sheriff’s Office. Johnson remained confident in his client’s eventual freedom.
“I’m still confident he will receive probation (at the sentencing hearing),” Johnson said.
The judge also gave Lorusso a final sentencing date of 1:15 p.m. May 13 in courtroom 319.
In court, Belshan gave a factual reading of what happened at 3:30 a.m. June 14. As the report was read, Godee’s family members, who were sitting in the courtroom, began to clasp one another and cry.
Belshan said Godee was killed at the scene by multiple blunt force trauma after Lorusso’s SUV hit a mailbox, a parked car and then became wedged between two trees on the 3100 block of Royal Fox Drive in St. Charles. The SUV was traveling at 77 mph in a 25 mph zone, according to a study by an accident reconstruction expert.
Two back seat passengers, Culton Kumerow and Chelsea Mertz, survived the crash with serious injuries. Belshan said the crash left Mertz fighting for her life with head injuries and left Kumerow with a broken femur and fractured ankle.
All involved in the crash attended St. Charles East.
Belshan said officers said Lorusso was “combative” at the scene, even refusing to identify the other individuals in the car with him.
Johnson said he disputed the speed of the crash, but agreed with everything else Belshan read.
After the crash, Lorusso was taken to Delnor-Community Hospital where his blood-alcohol level was determined to be 0.227, nearly three times the legal limit, according to the Kane County State's Attorney's Office. His blood also tested positive for tetrahydrocannabinol, the active chemical found in marijuana.
Solano said evidence points to all four coming from Godee’s house, which he said was free of adult-supervision for most of that week.
“(Lorusso) and Cameron were best friends since grade school,” Solano said, adding that Lorusso will now have to live with killing his best friend.
Solano said it is now their duty to overturn the jail sentence and make sure Lorusso gets probation. He said they will be fighting for probation at the May sentencing.
“(Lorusso) accepted the responsibility,” Solano said. “This wasn’t a chapter in (Lorusso’s) life that anybody expected. We’re going to try to show the rest of the book.”
According to Solano, there has been no contact between Lorusso and any of the three families, outside of three lawsuits filed against Lorusso by Kumerow, Mertz and Godee’s estates.
“Our heart goes out to the (Godee) family,” Solano said. “They had to bury a kid.”
Lorusso remains free on $50,000 bond.