Drunken Driver Who Keeps Drunken Driving Heading Back To Prison
A Rockdale man who did prison time for his part in a drunken wreck that claimed the life of a 10-year-old girl in 1999 is headed back to the penitentiary.
Three years after finishing up a seven-year bit in prison for killing a girl in a drunken crash, Glen Ray Higginbotham was getting arrested again for drunken driving.
A year later, while he was out on bond for that December 2010 DUI case, a drunken Higginbotham once more was arrested when he crashed into an oncoming car on New Lenox Road in unincorporated Joliet Township.
"If there was ever a case where an individual was knocking on the prison doors to get in, it would be this defendant," Assistant State's Attorney Tom Slazyk said of Higginbotham during a Monday morning sentencing hearing.
But Higginbotham's attorney, Alonzo Zahour, said that wasn't the case at all.
The 34-year-old Higginbotham was actually sorry for his crimes and in no real rush to go back to prison, Zahour said. But that's where Judge Amy Bertani-Tomczak sent him anyway, packing Higginbotham off on an eight-year sentence for his last two drunken driving arrests.
Judge Bertani-Tomczak said during Higginbotham's sentencing hearing that she does not "think probation is appropriate" in light of Higginbotham's repeated drunken driving arrests.
Higginbotham's first was in May 1999. He was tearing through Lockport when he rammed into a vehicle on State Street near 12th Street. The collision killed 10-year-old passenger Candace Graham.
Candace Graham was sitting in the backseat and was not wearing a seat belt. Her mother, Constance Graham, was making a legal left turn when Higginbotham's speeding car plowed into her vehicle.
Constance Graham admitted to drinking tequila and beer for hours before the crash. Her blood-alcohol content was .197 percent. A blood draw showed Higginbotham's blood-alcohol content was at .2 percent and that he also had cocaine in his system.
Constance Graham was placed on court supervision after pleading guilty to one count of misdemeanor drunken driving. Higginbotham went to prison for seven years.
Higginbotham caught his December 2010 case after he was found drunk and passed out in his car on Nicholson Street in Joliet. He followed that up with a boozy Christmas Day crash the following year.
Higginbotham's attorney stressed that his client was both sorry and respectful.
"He has shown remorse. He has shown attention to an alcohol problem by attending a program in the county jail," Zahour said. "This is not a man who's flagrantly thumbing his nose at the law."
Higginbotham's father, Glen Higginbotham Sr., testified during the brief hearing that he has been diagnosed with cancer three times and that his wife, Higginbotham's mother, is also sick. The elder Higginbotham said that if his son was spared prison time he could help care for his mother.
Higginbotham Sr. also said he would let his son live in his Yorkville home. Jail records list Higginbotham's home as a residence in Yorkville but Zahour said Higginbotham was living in Rockdale at the time of his last arrest.
Zahour also said Higginbotham had a job waiting for him if he didn't have to go to prison, and that his client has three children, including a daughter born while he was in the county jail who is now in the custody of the state's Department of Children and Family Services.
Higginbotham also testified, telling the judge he was sorry and was trying to improve himself. He has a lot of improving to do, according to a statement released by State's Attorney James Glasgow.
“Glen Higginbotham is a menace to society whose abject failure to learn even the smallest lesson after causing a crash that killed a little girl has landed him back in prison where he belongs,” Glasgow said. “Higginbotham is completely lacking in decency and remorse. Our streets and our community are safer with him behind bars."
Slazyk also sad he found it "shocking" that Higginbotham continued to drink and drive after the crash that killed Candace Graham.
"Most individuals would never drink again," Slazyk said, "or at least never have another beer and drive."