A metro-east man is facing an additional felony charge of reckless homicide eight months after his vehicle struck and killed a 16-year-old boy while driving in Belleville.
A St. Clair County grand jury has issued the new charges against Justin W. Schulte, 27. He originally was charged with reckless conduct, which typically carries a lighter sentence than reckless homicide.
Schulte, of Mascoutah, pleaded not guilty to the charges last week. The former Belleville resident is being represented attorney Don Cary Collins.
“We believe the charges are inappropriate due to the facts and circumstances surrounding the situation,” Collins said.
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Collins described the teen’s death as tragic and unfortunate, but he said he was surprised by the charges against Schulte.
The charges stem from a crash in October 2015 when a Belleville teen, Cameron Curran, was hit by a car while riding his bicycle on Old St. Louis Road. The boy died at the scene. According to a crash report, Schulte told police that he had “no time to brake” and struck the back of Curran’s bicycle while driving a 1986 Mercury Grand Marquis.
Schulte’s attorney, and the teen’s family in a previous report, said they didn’t believe any charges would be filed in the case, but in the spring, Illinois State Police completed its accident-reconstruction study.
The first charge came in May, months after the crash. One felony count of reckless conduct was filed in St. Clair County Circuit Court.
State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly said the case was presented to a grand jury earlier this month, resulting in the additional charge of reckless homicide. Kelly said he was unable to comment on grand jury deliberations or the evidence that was presented to them.
The indictments allege that reckless driving and excessive speeding played a role in the teen’s death. The posted speed limit on Old St. Louis Road is 40 mph.
The teen’s father, Garrick Curran, said he was pleased with the indictments.
“I’m feeling very good,” Garrick Curran said. “I don’t think you can lower that charge... You’re either guilty or you’re not. There’s no other way around it.”
The case is assigned to Circuit Judge Robert Haida for trial.