UPDATE: Woman sentenced after guilty plea in connection with 2016 fatal crash

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Updated May 21, 2018, 5:07 p.m.

UPDATE: ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - The woman accused of causing the 2016 crash that killed 55-year-old Joy Lambert pleads guilty to reckless homicide and aggravated fleeing.

Winnebago County Judge Donna Honzel sentenced 24-year-old Laronda Graham to a total of six years in prison for the two charges.

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Updated January 1, 2018, 7:50 p.m.

UPDATE ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - A trial date is now set for the woman charged in a 2016 car crash that killed 55-year-old Joy Lambert.

Laronda Graham was scheduled to enter a plea Wednesday afternoon but asked for a jury trial instead.

In February 2016, Winnebago County deputies tried to pull over Graham's car for speeding. That's when they say she took off, crashing into Lambert's car about a half mile later at Springfield and Cunningham.

Lambert, who was on her way to work at the time, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Graham faces a number of charges including aggravated DUI and fleeing to elude. Her trial is expected to start March 6.

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Posted August 18, 2016, 6:19 p.m.

ROCKFORD (WIFR) – The family of Joy Lambert, who was killed on her way to work in a crash with a car being chased by Winnebago County deputies, sues the county, the deputy, and the woman driving the car being chased.

"It never should have happened. That chase never should have occurred. It never should have occurred," Claudis Lambert, Joy’s husband, said.

The emotions are still raw for Claudis Lambert and his five kids. His wife of 37 years, Joy Lambert, was on her way to work on a cold and snowy February morning when a car being chased by Winnebago County Sheriff's deputies crashed into hers.

Joy, a prominent member of her church recently appointed to a leadership position, died instantly.

"It could have been anyone in this community," Todd Smith, attorney from Power Rogers & Smith, representing the Lambert family, said. Smith is working with local attorneys from MacCloskey Kesler & Associates.

The family hired a team of lawyers in hopes of preventing the loss of another innocent life and to find out exactly why deputies were chasing Laronda Graham.

"It was a traffic ticket essentially that was involved and the idea that someone loses their life over a two and a half mile or so chase, it just is totally preventable," Smith said.

Smith says the chase didn't last a minute as reported by the sheriff's department. He says it lasted about two and a half minutes at speeds topping 80 miles per hour.

"There has to be an element of belief, reasonable belief that if the person does escape or eludes than that person is causing a risk for the people in the community," Smith said.

The chase was stopped about four seconds before the crash; however the cars were still at speeds in the high 70's. Sheriff Gary Caruana wouldn't comment on the case itself, but did say this.

"We have a pursuit review board and we review every pursuit and he did exactly what we asked him to do and he shut it down.”

The Lambert's say Joy's death has left a gaping hole. Her warm smile and outgoing personality no longer able to touch people from every walk of life.

"She just cared so much, she cared about everything, cared about anyone she was in contact with she had a feeling of wanting to do something to help, wanted to do something to make a person's life better," Claudis Lambert said.

Sheriff Gary Caruana says Deputy Moski didn't so anything wrong and wasn't disciplined. He is still on the force.

Sheriff Caruana wants to remind drivers to never speed off instead of pulling over when deputies are trying to stop us.

The next hearing for the wrongful death case is scheduled for November 16.

Laronda Graham, the driver of the car being chased, is charged with reckless homicide.



 
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