The convicted drunk driver stood up, planted his fists on the courtroom table and hung his head before facing the two mothers whose sons he’d killed.
“Today is the hardest day of my life and it’s my own fault,” former North Chicago police officer Terrell Garrett said Friday.
Maria Torres stormed out of the Cook County courtroom, later vowing never to forgive. The other mother, Cecilia Garcia, turned her face into her husband’s shoulder and wept.
A few moments later, Judge Mary Margaret Brosnahan sentenced Garrett to 10 years in prison after he agreed to plead guilty to three counts of aggravated drunk driving. Garrett, speeding north in the southbound lanes of Lake Shore Drive on March 15, 2013, crashed into a Jeep, killing Joaquin Garcia, 25, and his friend, Fabian Torres, 27. The crash also severely injured a woman, Eve Yeaton, who was heading to her job at Midway International Airport. Garrett’s blood alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit shortly after the crash, prosecutors said.
Brosnahan described Garrett’s actions as “selfish,” and said he should have known when he got into his SUV that people could be injured.
Garrett said that if he could, he’d willingly exchange places with the young men he killed.
His words drew very different reactions from the grieving mothers of his victims.
Cecilia Garcia said she has forgiven Garrett — because if she didn’t, her life would come to a standstill.
“I can’t have a grudge against a person … ,” she said. “It’s not hurting nobody else but me. I have to forgive to go on with life.”
A livid Maria Torres said she could never forgive Garrett — or Brosnahan for a 10-year term, when it might have been as high as 28 years.
“I really feel like I was let down,” Torres said.
In discussing her reasoning, Brosnahan had noted Garrett had no prior criminal history.
“Well, come on, he’s a police officer,” Torres said. “He swore to do right by us, to protect us. And instead, I get someone [who] kills my baby. How is there justice served with 10 years?”