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Attorney: Plea deal possible in fatal crash

Published: Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013 4:50 p.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013 11:21 p.m. CDT
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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 in this file photo from October. Black's lawyer says he might make a deal to plead guilty to some charges against him.

ST. CHARLES – A 29-year-old Sycamore man accused of having opiates in his system during a fatal crash is considering pleading guilty to aggravated driving under the influence, his attorney says.

In Kane County Circuit Court on Thursday, Benjamin Black's attorney said he is considering a plea agreement from prosecutors. On the next court date of Nov. 14, Black, of the 1500 block of Sparkhayes Drive, could to plead guilty to some of the charges against him in exchange for prosecutors dropping the rest of the counts, Black's attorney, D.J. Tegeler said.

"It's my anticipation he'll either plead guilty, or I'll ask the court for the time to file the appropriate motions and prepare for trial," Tegeler said.

If Black enters a guilty plea, Judge James Hallock could sentence him to between three and 14 years in prison, Tegeler said. Probation would be an option only if Hallock found extraordinary circumstances existed.

Black was charged in connection with the crash that killed 11-year-old Matthew Ranken and severely injured 19-year-old Teale Noble, both of Sycamore.

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 carrying Ranken and Noble, authorities said.

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 under the influence of the drug at the time.

Tegeler has said Black’s SUV slid on ice before smashing into the car carrying Ranken and Noble. Black got out of his vehicle, tried to help others involved with the crash, and then cooperated with police, Tegeler said.

Ranken's father, Larry Ranken, pointed out Black's criminal history and said he hoped the judge issued a stiff sentence. DuPage County court records show Black was charged with possession of a controlled substance in 2002, underage drinking in 2005, and driving under the influence of drugs in 2004.

"I'm hoping the judge will max him out," Larry Ranken said. "With the guy's track record, it is just outstanding that he was on the road to do this."

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