Mother of Boy Killed in Steger Crash Briefly Takes Stand

Kathie LaFond could reappear as a defense witness Thursday

By Charlie Wojciechowski and BJ Lutz
|  Wednesday, Feb 16, 2011  |  Updated 5:26 PM CDT
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Mother of Boy Killed in Steger Crash Briefly Takes Stand

NBCChicago/Myspace (inset)

Michael Langford, 5, was killed in a drunken driving crash in Steger last May.

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The mother of a 5-year-old boy killed in a drunken driving crash last May briefly took the stand Wednesday and provided what is called "life and death" testimony.

Kathie LaFond told jurors that she saw her son, Michael Langford, alive one day and identified him in the morgue the next.  She could be back on the stand as a defense witness as early as Thursday.

Langford was strapped in his car seat when the car he was in, driven by Cecil Conner, slammed into a tree in Steger.

An accident reconstruction specialist testified Conner's car was traveling between 66 and 73 mph when it crashed.  A pathologist said Langford's death was due to multiple injuries, including multiple skull fractures.

"To hear a professional on the stand that actually dealt with Michael and took the time to make sure that Michael was taken care of properly after this accident, I think it really, really hit Cecil hard today," said defense attorney Jeff Tomczak.

Conner admits he was drunk but said he only drove because a Chicago Heights officer told him to do so after LaFond, who had been driving, was arrested because of a suspended license.

Conner and LaFond are both adamant they told the Chicago Heights officer that Conner was intoxicated. 

The officer denies that claim, and said that Conner was "alright when I turned [the car] over to him," according to recordings of his conversation with a dispatcher.

In court Tuesday, Steger's lead investigator in the case testified that Conner never told the Chicago Heights officer that he was drunk.

Conner is charged with reckless homicide and two counts of aggravated driving under the influence.  If convicted, Conner faces 14 years in prison.

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