Case continued in death of Skokie boy
Hanin Goma, charged in connection with a traffic crash that killed 9-year-old Carter Vo last May, no longer has a plea agreement to consider. The court Thursday withdrew the offer.| File photo
Updated: February 11, 2013 6:28AM
SKOKIE — Whether Hanin Goma accepts a plea agreement or goes to trial in connection with the death of a 9-year-old boy in Skokie remains unknown – even after her latest court appearance Friday.
Goma, of Skokie, is charged with felony and misdemeanor counts of aggravated driving under the influence of drugs.
Goma, 23 at the time, allegedly struck and killed Carter Vo while he was out for a bicycle ride May 21 on the sidewalk at Main Street and St. Louis Avenue. Goma was also cited for failing to yield at a stop intersection and failure to provide proof of valid insurance.
She neither accepted or rejected a possible plea agreement Friday and may be weighing her options. It was the second court appearance where Goma did not accept a plea agreement.
Prosecutor Cathy Crowley and Goma’s lawyer, Michael Goggin, did not provide details of the plea agreement that was initially offered to Goma in December, but the father of the victim, Nhu Vo, said that Goma has been offered a five-year prison sentence.
Under state law, Goma could serve at least 85 percent of a three- to 14-year sentence if found guilty, Crowley said.
Police said Goma admitted to smoking marijuana the day of the crash. Blood tests also showed marijuana and amphetamines in her system, they said.
Traveling south on St. Louis Avenue while trying to turn left on Main Street, Goma hit an eastbound vehicle and lost control of her car, according to police. She allegedly struck the boy and dragged him and his bicycle about 150 feet before striking a parked car.
Goma was released from jail on $250,000 bond after the incident, but she violated her release conditions in August, police said. She was reported as the victim of a battery at a location more than a half mile from her home – well beyond her restricted limit. She was taken into custody after Skokie police alerted the county about the incident and has been in jail since that time.
The families of both Goma and Carter Vo were in the courtroom Friday for the defendant’s brief appearance. Wearing pinkish police garb, Goma’s case was continued to Jan. 17, when she could decide whether to accept a plea agreement.
For Carter Vo’s parents, the pain of losing their son has not healed.
“No amount of time (she gets) is going to bring my son back,” said an emotional Nhu Vo outside the courtroom. “I would give 10 years of my life just to spend a day with my son. Every part of the house reminds me of him.”
The father said that no matter the details of Goma’s sentence, the defendant will be able to see family and friends and eventually return to the outside world.
“I hope she appreciates life,” he said.
The death exacerbated existing concerns of Skokie residents who live near the site of the crash. Some neighbors had already complained that Main was not safe enough because of too much speeding and poor sight conditions. The intersection is only blocks away from Middleton School, which heightened the fear, although Carter Vo was a second-grader at Madison School.
Following the accident, residents posted signs asking that drivers slow down to save a life, and the village conducted a safety study of the area. Mayor George Van Dusen formed a committee to look at safety around schools, especially Middleton, and 10 recommendations including installation of a traffic light at Main and Central Park Avenue were approved by the Skokie Village Board.
One of those recommendations called for reducing the speed limit on Main, but there were also opponents to this change who insisted it was an over-reaction.