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Kewanee man withholds plea in vehicular death in Henry County

Kewanee man withholds plea in vehicular death in Henry County

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CAMBRIDGE — A Kewanee man on Thursday changed his mind halfway through a plea to having been under the influence of alcohol when he was involved in a single-vehicle rollover accident that caused the death of Gabina Garcia, 27, of Kewanee.

The Class 2 felony would have carried a penalty of three to 14 years in prison.

Lorenzo S. Quintero, 49, was driving the car. His wife, Yolanda, and her sister, Garcia were passengers. They were returning from a Davenport dance club.

Thursday's plea hearing in Henry County Circuit Court came more than a year and a half after the 3:15 a.m. April 9, 2017, accident that happened on Illinois 78 north of Kewanee.

Quintero had second thoughts about his plea after Assistant State's Attorney Stephanie Barrick read a factual basis for the case. She said a forensic scientist found that Quintero had a blood alcohol content of 0.188, or over twice the legal limit, and cocaine present in his system, while a test at the hospital where he was being treated for other injuries showed a whole blood result as opposed to blood serum of 0.205.

Barrick said accident reconstructionist Kelan Wells determined Quintero's vehicle drifted out of its lane through the oncoming lane and into the east side ditch, where it vaulted over a driveway, went airborne, landed and rolled. Garcia was was in the back seat and not wearing a seat belt, and she was ejected from the vehicle through the sunroof. 

Judge Jeffrey O'Connor said he needed to know what was going through Quintero's mind.

“It's very important to me that if Mr. Quintero feels he is not guilty of this charge, I need to know,” said the judge.

Through his attorney Larry Vandersnick, Quintero said there were things he didn't agree with in the account of what happened that night, and he didn't feel he was guilty.

“I fell asleep. It was an accident. It wasn't intentional,” he said.

A pretrial conference was set for Jan. 21.

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