A Chillicothe man was sentenced Friday to eight years in prison for causing a fatal car crash last November that killed his friend.


A Chillicothe man was sentenced Friday to eight years in prison for causing a fatal car crash last November that killed his friend.

John L. Carr, 29, of 515 N. Third St. had hoped for probation, saying he was a changed person after the Nov. 7, 2009, crash. He wrote in a 13-page letter to Circuit Judge Glenn Collier that he wanted to use his experiences to teach others about the evils of driving while drunk.

But Collier nixed that, saying the act of Carr drinking so much that his blood-alcohol content was about 0.28 percent, or more than three times the legal limit, was an intentional act and therefore, merited prison. Carr must serve at least 85 percent of his sentence, meaning that with about seven months in custody, he could get out of prison in just more than six years.

Police allege Carr’s sport-utility vehicle left the road, struck a tree and came to a rest in a driveway at 3128 N. North St. about 2:25 a.m. Both men had to be cut out of the vehicle. The front end was nearly flattened.

Passenger Robert T. Cotelleso, 41, of Peoria was taken to OSF Saint Francis Medical Center and pronounced dead about two hours after the crash.
It wasn’t clear if either man was wearing a seat belt.

Assistant State’s Attorney Brian FitzSimons pushed for a sentence near the agreed-upon cap of 10 years, saying Carr’s actions that night threatened harm not just to himself or Cotelleso but to the people of the neighborhood. The prosecutor showed Collier several slides of the crash site and noted the tree Carr hit was directly in front of a house and within several feet of two other houses as well.

Beyond that, FitzSimons pointed to Carr’s past criminal history, which included two convictions for aggravated battery, as proof that he didn’t care to follow the rules of society.

Defense attorney Ron Hamm, however, said Carr should get probation and pointed to the two dozen people who came to speak on his behalf. Even Cotelleso’s family was there to ask the judge not to send him to prison.