A DuPage County judge said today that cameras will be allowed at the arraignment of the truck driver charged in last week's fatal accident that killed a tollway worker and badly injured a state trooper.
Judge Robert Kleeman’s ruling will grant extended media access to his courtroom when Renato Velasquez formally enters his plea to felony charges of driving while impaired, fatigued and of falsifying records.
The arraignment date for Velasquez, 46, of Hanover Park has been set for March 3.
Velasquez attorney Kevin McCubbin objected to allowing cameras, saying they could potentially taint the jury pool. Attorneys who oppose courtroom cameras have previously argued that images of an in-custody defendant, appearing in a courtroom handcuffed and in jail garb can paint a prejudicial picture with the public.
But, the judge noted, Velasquez is not in custody, so the possibility of taint is of less concern.
According to court records, Velasquez posted $15,000 cash bond last week.
Although not under the influence of drugs or alcohol, Velasquez had allegedly worked and driven more than 36 hours with less than four hours sleep when he struck the tollway emergency vehicle and trooper’s car about 9:45 p.m. on Jan. 27.
The fiery collision killed Illinois Tollway Authority worker Vincent Petrella. He and the trooper had stopped along Interstate 88 near Aurora to help a semi driver whose truck had become disabled. The trooper suffered third-degree burns and broken bones, authorities said.
Velasquez is accused of violating safety laws that regulate the amount of hours commercial drivers can work before taking a break, and of falsifying logs intended to ensure compliance with those driving limits.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun