August 29, 2014

Suspect who led police on Belleville chase charged with two felonies

A man accused of leading police on a Wednesday night chase across west Belleville has been charged with a pair of felonies and a misdemeanor.

Justin C. Sterling, 29, of 1163 Dawn Drive, initially stopped after being pulled over by a Belleville officer but then fled after the officer got out of his patrol car, police said.

He has been charged with two counts of aggravated fleeing and attempting to elude a police officer -- both Class 3 felonies -- and one misdemeanor count of driving on a revoked license.

Belleville Police Detective Sgt. Mark Heffernan declined to speculate on why Sterling fled. But, according to St. Clair County Clerk's Department records, Sterling was out of jail awaiting trial on several charges when he was pulled over by police.

He was charged Jan. 16 with aggravated battery to a police officer and unlawful possession of a controlled substance. He is also awaiting trial for charges filed Sept. 8 for driving on a revoked license and speeding 11-14 mph over the limit, and he faces charges filed May 6, 2013 for unlawful possession of cannabis.

He was convicted in 2011 for aggravated fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer and driving under the influence; in 2009 on two counts of aggravated fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer and for two separate incidents of driving on a revoked license.

In all, Sterling has had 78 charges filed against him by the St. Clair County State's Attorney's office dating back to 2001.

Heffernan said the officer in the latest incident attempted to pull Sterling over near the intersection of West Main Street and Lebanon Road at shortly after 11 p.m. Wednesday. After he fled, about a half dozen Belleville police officers and St. Clair County Sheriff's Department deputies joined the pursuit.

Sterling was captured on Illinois 161 near Frank Scott Parkway about 20-25 minutes later.

Heffernan said the suspect was traveling at speeds well over the felony standard of 21 mph or more over the posted limit, and was driving recklessly. No one was hurt in the pursuit.

Sterling was jailed on $50,000 bail.

Contact reporter Scott Wuerz at or call 618-239-2626.

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