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Local

Special prosecutor to look at deputy's case

La Salle County State's Attorney Karen Donnelly has changed course and decided an outside prosecutor, rather than herself, should consider whether to charge a sheriff's deputy in connection with a fatal crash.

A sheriff's truck, driven by deputy Terry Puckett, collided Dec. 26, 2016,  near Mendota, with a truck driven by Dixon man Martin Quest. Puckett was injured and Quest was killed. State police investigated the crash and turned their report over to Donnelly's office. On Jan. 12, Assistant State's Attorney George Mueller said the crash was an accident and Puckett would not be charged.

However, Donnelly said her office has been criticized for their "preliminary" decision to not charge Puckett. The criticism centered around the fact Quest's family is suing the county and Donnelly, as state's attorney, represents the county's interests; charging Puckett, if a charge was warranted, could damage the county's defense against the suit. In critics' view, Donnelly and her staff have a conflict of interest and should not be the ones to determine whether Puckett is charged.

"After meeting with the victim's family and attorney, I have decided, in an overabundance of caution, to seek a Special Prosecutor to review the investigation and determine what, if any, further action should be taken," Donnelly said Friday.

As a result, the Illinois Office of the State's Attorney Appellate Prosecutor has been asked to look at the case, according to Donnelly.

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