Elizabeth Donatelli told a DuPage County judge Tuesday that she still had feelings for the boyfriend she ran down last summer with a car — an act that left him with a fractured skull and broken leg.
"(A) part of me still loves (him)," Donatelli said, shortly before Judge Robert Miller sentenced her to six months in the county jail.
The former La Grange resident, 21, pleaded guilty in January to aggravated DUI for running her car over a curb in downtown Lombard to hit the boyfriend, 22, about 5 a.m. on July 23. He had exited the car moments before while the couple had been arguing over fidelity issues, authorities said.
The former boyfriend was in court but did not give a victim-impact statement. His mother did, though, and she recounted his injuries, which included the skull fracture and ongoing issues related to traumatic brain injury.
He spent a month in the hospital and another month in a rehab facility, and had to learn how to walk, talk and eat again, the mother said.
The sentence includes four years of probation, during which time Donatelli must wear an alcohol-sensing anklet and will be subject to whatever counseling that the probation department deems appropriate.
Afterward, the former boyfriend said he was "fine" with the judge’s decision.
"She needs help," he said.
Her attorney, Terry Ekl, and prosecutors debated whether Donatelli deserved to go to prison. She was eligible for up to 12 years, but Ekl said she had taken steps to address some of her issues, and was working as a hostess at a Chicago restaurant. Although Donatelli made a "horrible decision," she would be a good candidate for probation, Ekl argued.
Assistant State’s Attorney Bethany Jackson said even taking into account evidence that the boyfriend might have slapped Donatelli just before the incident, it would not excuse her subsequent actions.
"She could have driven away. Instead, she chose to run him over," said Jackson, who asked for a seven-year prison sentence.
Clifford Ward is a freelance reporter.