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Sycamore man denies charges in fatal crash

Published: Thursday, Oct. 17, 2013 11:08 a.m. CST • Updated: Thursday, Oct. 17, 2013 11:22 p.m. CST
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(Rob Winner – rwinner@shawmedia.com)
Benjamin Black of Sycamore is escorted into Kane County Judge James Hallock's courtroom in Geneva on Thursday. Black is accused of having opiates in his system during a crash that killed 11-year-old Matthew Ranken of Sycamore and seriously injured Teale Noble, 18, of Sycamore. Black was driving a Ford Expedition that smashed into the back of a Chevrolet Cavalier carrying the two, causing a crash that involved two other vehicles, police said.

ST. CHARLES – A 29-year-old Sycamore man accused of having opiates in his system during the crash that killed an 11-year-old and severely injured an 18-year-old formally denied the charges Thursday.

Benjamin Black, of the 1500 block of Sparkhayes Drive, pleaded not guilty to six counts of aggravated driving under the influence. If convicted of the most serious count, Black could be sentenced to between three and 14 years in prison. Probation would only be an option if the judge found extraordinary circumstances existed.

Black was driving a Ford Expedition on Route 64 in Kane County about 7:30 p.m. Feb. 27 when he smashed into the back of a Chevrolet Cavalier, causing a crash that involved two other vehicles, authorities said. Inside the Cavalier were Matthew Ranken of Sycamore, who died, and Teale Noble of Sycamore, who suffered a fractured skull and other injuries.

Heroin metabolites were found in a sample of Black’s urine taken immediately after the crash, authorities said. That typically means a person recently had consumed heroin, although they might not have been high on the drug at the time.

Black remains in Kane County Jail unable to post 10 percent of his $250,000 bond. His case is next due in court Oct. 31.

He also was charged with theft in DeKalb County for allegedly stealing more than $4,000 of coiled copper and brass March 11 in Cortland. That case is next due in DeKalb County Court on Nov. 27.

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