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Defendant doesn't show, but still sentenced for fatal crash

Miguel Alvarado did not show in court Friday, but his sentencing went ahead.

The 41-year-old Alvarado, of Streator, was in a traffic crash Aug. 15, 2016, that killed Alexandria Stevenson, 23, of Ottawa, on Route 23, a few miles north of Streator. Prosecutors said Alvarado was driving under the influence of an excessive amount of prescription drugs at the time. Alvarado told police he "fell asleep," then woke up to find himself in the aftermath of a collision.

Alvarado, who has been free on $7,500 cash bond, did not appear at his sentencing Friday. Mention was made he is believed to have gone to Mexico in early February. At any rate, Circuit Judge Cynthia Raccuglia proceeded to sentence Alvarado to 14 years in prison, of which he must serve about 12 years.

An arrest warrant was issued. Raccuglia said she would not order Alvarado's bond money be forfeited, because it was posted by Alvarado's sister. Raccuglia said the money should be returned to the sister.

According to Prosecutor Greg Sticka and defense attorney Alan Howarter, Alvarado has suffered mental problems and a brain injury, with Howarter saying Alvarado was at the onset of schizophrenia. Howarter added Alvarado has a low IQ and doesn't speak well.

Howarter suggested Alvarado did not show Friday out of "humiliation" at causing Stevenson's death. Alvarado's sister also said her brother was remorseful.

Sticka said Alvarado's record includes aggravated battery, theft, unlawful restraint and domestic battery. Sticka pointed out Alvarado has a long history of not complying with mental treatment recommendations. In particular, Sticka noted one month after the fatal crash Alvarado was again behind the wheel with drugs in his system when he blacked out and his vehicle lurched into a building in Streator.

In agreeing to Sticka's request to give Alvarado 14 years, Raccuglia put great weight on Alvarado's failures to follow treatment recommendations, saying he is not a vicious criminal, but nonetheless presents a "danger to the public."

"I don't know what more can be done to help him. I need to protect the public," Raccuglia said.

Raccuglia added, "I"m still confused how he ever had a driver's license," in light of his mental and physical impairments.

Raccuglia encouraged the Stevenson family, who were present in the courtroom, stressing their daughter was "beautiful" in more than just her looks.

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