Student Felon May Have Violated Sentencing Agreement

Court records show Jake Malecek has been doing much more than just attending work and school

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Court records show Jake Malecek -- convicted of involuntary manslaughter in connection with the death of a teen -- has been doing much more than just attending work and school. Dick Johnson reports for NBC 5 Investigates. (Published Tuesday, Jun 10, 2014)

    A DePaul student convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the 2011 death of a Chicago teenager in Long Beach, Ind., is now accused of repeatedly violating his sentencing agreement, NBC 5 Investigates has found.

    And while several court experts say this type of violation would normally result in immediate jail time, that has not yet happened in this case, causing the parents of the dead teen to speak out and wonder why not.

    Victim's Father On Malecek Plea Deal: "He's Been Given a Gift"

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    The family of a man who died after suffer a fatal blow in a beach fight nearly two years ago aren't happy with the plea deal given to the man who threw the punch. (Published Thursday, May 16, 2013)

    Steps from the Beverly home of Jean and Kevin Kennelly is a beautiful neighborhood flower garden planted in the memory of their only child, also named Kevin. But the healing solitude of the garden has now been jolted in a way the Kennellys never imagined, almost three years after their son's death.

    During the July 4th weekend in 2011, along the sandy lakeshore that hugs the cottage community of Long Beach, Mt. Carmel High School student Kevin Kennelly and several friends became involved in an alcohol-fueled altercation with another group of teenagers. One was Jake Malecek, who had just graduated from Loyola Academy in north suburban Wilmette.

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    James Malecek, 19, pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and was sentenced to 145 days in jail. Dick Johnson reports. (Published Thursday, May 16, 2013)

    During the altercation Malecek threw one swift "sucker punch" -- as the local police chief later described it -- killing Kennelly.

    Malecek was ultimately convicted of involuntary manslaughter nearly two years later, in May of 2013 - just four days before he turned 21 years old. He was sentenced by La Porte County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Alevizos to three months in the county jail, followed by almost four years of strict G.P.S. monitoring or, as one law enforcement expert calls it, "prison without the jail cell." The court order stipulated that Malecek adhere to a nightly curfew of 8 p.m. and it allowed him to go only to his job and to attend classes and related activities at DePaul University, where he is currently a student.

    At the time of the sentencing the judge told Malecek he was being given a "gift," adding that the sentence "could have been much worse." The judge advised him to do something with his life "for the greater good."

    But NBC 5 Investigates has now obtained court documents that appear to show that Malecek has repeatedly violated his G.P.S. monitoring agreement, beginning this past April. The company assigned to keep track of him, Knight Community Corrections, Inc. of La Porte, sent a letter to Malecek's Lincoln Park apartment on April 15th, listing his alleged violations of the G.P.S. monitoring agreement.

    The letter and accompanying documents, which are all now part of Malecek's court file, cite him for attending a birthday party for a friend "at, or near the Chase Tower" in Chicago on April 11 where alcohol was served (in violation of his sentencing agreement); failing to disclose the party in the activity report he was required to file with Knight each week; violating his curfew that same night, and failing to show up for a mandatory meeting with Knight staff, the week before. The letter specifically warned Malecek was in violation of his home detention contract. That allegation alone can often send an offender immediately back to jail.

    But according to other court documents, just days later on April 20th, on an afternoon when Malecek reported to authorities that he would be at a school tennis practice, his G.P.S. monitoring instead tracked him to Wrigley Field, where the Chicago Cubs were playing the Cincinnati Reds -- a game which was also documented on his girlfriend's Facebook page.

    Citing these repeated instances of apparent violations, Chicago defense attorney and Kent College of Law Professor Richard Kling calls it "very strange" that the judge who sentenced Malecek has not ordered him back to jail. "If my [client] did this, he'd be locked up -- unhesitatingly brought by the state's attorney, brought by the police, and locked up," says Kling.

    NBC5 Investigates has learned that Judge Alevizos has not even had a full hearing on the alleged violations. An initial hearing in early May was continued, and this week the Judge is expected to delay the court date once again, until July 25th. That is more than three months after the court was first informed of possible violations.

    The Kennellys find the court's inaction inexplicable. "It just seems that the rules for everybody else don't apply to Jake Malecek," Kevin Kennelly says.

    La Porte County Prosecutor Bob "Z" Szilagyi agrees. He told NBC5 Investigates that in most cases a convict would immediately be remanded to jail if he had been reported in violation of the terms of his sentence. "I guess [the Judge] just didn't want to," Szilagyi said.

    Now, the Kennellys feel their anguish is back, their justice undone. "They told us if [Malecek] steps out of bounds once, he'd be locked up," says Kevin Kennelly. "He had his chance, and all he had to do was the right thing, and he blew it."

    By all indications, Jake Malecek is still living in his Lincoln Park apartment. Calls to and messages left with his attorney and Judge Alevizos have not been returned.