Jury decides in favor of Boone County in civil trial over deadly crash

By Jim Hagerty

ROCKFORD — A Boone County deputy was not in the wrong during a car chase that resulted in the death of a Rockford lawyer three years ago.

That is what a jury decided Thursday in the civil trial over the death of 42-year-old Karen S. Williams, killed on Aug. 20, 2014, when her car was struck by a vehicle driven by a robbery suspect. The suspect was fleeing from Boone County Deputy Robert Rosenkranz, who pursued the white Pontiac out of Belvidere, where it collided with Williams’ Honda near CherryVale Mall.

Williams died a week later. Her family filed a wrongful death lawsuit on Oct. 6, 2014, naming several respondents including Boone County, Cherry Valley Police Department and the Winnebago-Boone Integrity Task Force. The family was seeking damages of $12.5 million.

Attorney for Williams’ family, Keenan Saulter, told the jury during closing arguments that Rosenkranz was in “cowboy mode” when he pursued the car carrying Devonte Locke, D’Angelo Brooks and Ronaldo Fort; the Rockford Register Star reported Friday.

“Karen Williams deserves justice,” Saulter said. “From the grave, she demands it. This life didn’t deserve to be snuffed out like this.”

Locke, Brooks and Fort were suspects in a robbery at a Belivedere U.S. Cellular store at the time of the crash. They were reportedly armed, Rosenkranz said in court, reasoning why he continued the pursuit.

The jury deliberated for three hours before reaching a verdict. Boone County was represented by attorney James Devine.

In addition to 21 years in prison for armed robbery, Locke 23, was sentenced to 10 years behind bars for second-degree murder as the driver of the getaway car. Brooks, 22, was sentenced to 30 years for armed robbery, while 22-year-old Fort received a 30-year sentence for armed robbery and 22 1/2 years for armed violence. His sentences are running concurrently. R.

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