Sliwinski Set To Be Relased

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Ex-model Jeanette Sliwinski, convicted of killing three local musicians in a suicide attempt car crash, will be released from prison next week after serving three years of an eight-year sentence causing outrage among the relatives and friends of the three men killed. Michael Dahlquest (39, left), John Glick (35, right), and Douglas Meis (29, center) were killed on July 14, 2005 on their lunch break when Sliwinski, driving over 90 miles-per-hour, slammed into their car in Skokie; Sliwinski suffered a broken ankle. Sliwinski was convicted of three counts of reckless homicide, though prosecutors originally sought first-degree murders and a 30-year sentence. The presiding judge, Cook County Circuit Judge Garritt Howard, citing her lack of violent history and mental state, reduced that sentence. Sliwinski's release is due to "a sentencing law that governs many Illinois crimes other than murder and routinely cuts sentences in half."

When Brent Fowler, the investigating officer on the case, found out about Sliwinski's early release, he said, "The moral side of me is crying out for justice...She took the life of three innocent people who were going to lunch. If that's not a travesty of justice, I don't know what is." Scott Meis, Doug's younger brother, said, "The sentence was so light...Here we are, three years later, and she's walking out? For killing three people? That's amazing...It's absurd [prison counseling] cuts time off an already short sentence."

Sliwinski's lawyer, Thomas Breen, was sympathetic towards the victims' families, but defended his client. "We have to get out of the mind-set...that [keeping a defendant in prison] fills the loss of the family somehow...Once you understand the facts, as Judge Howard did, it makes sense." Sliwinski was described as bi-polar by a defense psychiatrist during the trial, a contention that prosecutors argued against, calling it "contrived." Judge Howard said, "I believe the defendant was being truthful when she said she only intended to hurt herself and not anyone else."

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