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Bail set at $20,000 for woman charged with fatal West Town hit-and-run

The 2000 block of West Division Street | Google Streetview

Bail was set at $20,000 Thursday for a woman charged with a hit-and-run crash that killed a man last year in the West Town neighborhood.

Karen Maldonado, 24, faces charges of reckless homicide, leaving the scene of an accident and driving under the influence, Chicago police said.

Maldonado was driving about 1:20 a.m. June 18, 2017 when she swerved into a bike lane and struck 23-year-old Eric Judge as he waited for a vehicle to pick him up in the 2000 block of West Division Street, Assistant State’s Attorney Jamison Berger said at a hearing Thursday at the Leighton Criminal Court Building.

Maldonado slowed down after hitting Judge, but then continued driving her 1999 Infiniti G20 sedan east on Division Street without stopping, authorities said. Judge, of the Logan Square neighborhood, was taken to Stroger Hospital, where he died.

Maldonado pulled over later and called her boyfriend, telling him she hit someone and needed help, Berger said. The boyfriend met Maldonado and found her slumped behind the wheel, which had sustained damage to the windshield and front end. The boyfriend drove the car and parked near his mother’s house, where Maldonado “spent the night vomiting.”

Karen Maldonado | Chicago police

Karen Maldonado | Chicago police

The next day, a person who lived in the neighborhood saw the damage to the car and called 311 to report it, Berger said. The caller could not get through to the city’s information line and instead took pictures of the car and uploaded them to a city of Chicago app.

Another neighbor, who also saw the damage, as well as blood and hair on the car, called 911, Berger said. When officers responded, they found a note on the car saying a branch had fallen on it and the officers left without further investigation.

Maldonado called a second boyfriend and had him meet her at the car, Berger said. He drove the car to her driveway, where it was later picked up, towed and junked.

As part of the police investigation, flyers were printed with a picture of Maldonado’s car and distributed, Berger said. The person who took the photos the day after the crash recognized it and called police. The license plate was found to be registered to Maldonado’s mother, but investigators learned that Karen Maldonado was the only person who drove it.

In addition to surveillance video of the crash, cell phone records for Maldonado and both boyfriends showed their movements around the time of the crash, which matched with their own descriptions of their involvement, Berger said. Investigators also said Maldonado told both boyfriends she had hit someone and told one she had been drinking at the time.

Officers arrested Maldonado Tuesday morning in the Belmont Cragin neighborhood on the Northwest Side, police said. She lived in the same block where she was arrested.

David Herrera, a private attorney for Maldonado, said she denied the charges and had never been arrested.

During the hearing, Maldonado suddenly fainted and fell to the ground. She was led back to a holding area near the courtroom and the hearing was momentarily postponed.

After court, Herrera said she had been held by police for 48 hours before appearing at the hearing and had only eaten a sandwich and had not been provided water.

When she was brought back into the courtroom, Maldonado was allowed to sit in a chair before Judge Mary Marubio, who asked her if she wanted the Mexican consulate notified of her arrest after prosecutors said she had been born in Mexico.

Maldonado said she was an American citizen.

Marubio set her bail at $20,000 and ordered her put on electronic monitoring if she posts bond. Maldonado was also told she was not allowed to drive without a valid license and to surrender her passport.

Her next court date was set for Nov. 20.