The attorney for Maria Romero, an illegal immigrant, wants the most serious charge against her dropped on constitutional grounds, namely the fifth amendment and its “right to remain silent”.
Romero is accused of driving the SUV that struck and killed 17-year-old Emilio Perez of Villa Park on Interstate 88 near Joslin, IL on March 8th of last year. Romero is charged with leaving the scene of an accident and with failure to report an accident. She has pleaded not guilty to both charges.
Romero could face up to 18 years in prison for killing Perez in addition to her pending deportation on immigration charges.
It is the charge of failure to report that Romero’s attorney is trying to have dismissed as being unconstitutional under the fifth amendment, the QC Times says Romero’s lawyer characterized the charge as “criminalizing” the right to remain silent.
The Perez family spent more than 6 months putting up fliers, billboards, and making public pleas for people to come forward with information about the vehicle and driver that stuck and killed Emilio before police arrested Romero in Rockford. According to police Romero’s husband kept track of the investigation via Google searches. All the while saying not a word to anyone about Maria Romero’s involvement in the deadly accident.
Maria Romero didn’t come forward at the time of the accident or in the months afterward on her own because she’s an illegal immigrant and opted to conceal the vehicle involved in Emilio’s death and remained silent and in the “shadows” out of fear of being deported.
Emilio Perez’s father Al told WQAD after a hearing Thursday, “I would expect somebody in this scenario to kind of want it to drag along thinking that we’re going to get rid of this and just want to put it behind us, but we’re here.” Emilio’s father Al Perez said Thursday along with his wife Lauren. “I said this early on when Lauren and I were coming out here every weekend looking for answers, we’re not going away.”
The Judge in the case has scheduling a hearing on the defenses motion to have the charge of failing to report an accident dismissed May 4th. Romero’s trial is scheduled to begin July 6th in Rock Island county.