A rural Darien woman who drove a vehicle at speeds exceeding 110 mph after a shots-fired incident in Beloit sobbed as she was sentenced to prison in Rock County Court on Thursday.
Emily A. Morris, 27, of 12705 E. Minkey Road, had pleaded guilty earlier to first-degree recklessly endangering safety.
The 11-mile chase included speeding down Interstate 90/39 last March 18 and ended when the vehicle hit police stop-sticks.
Assistant District Attorney Jerry Urbik said Morris has shown disregard for traffic laws in the past and recommended three years in prison and three years of extended supervision.
Defense attorney Adam Witt said Morris has struggled with drug abuse and mental health problems since she was a juvenile. He called her intelligent and the mother of a 5-year-old who chose the wrong companions out of a desire to fit in.
Morris spent six months in jail after the incident and now understands what it means to be incarcerated, Witt said as he recommended five years of probation.
Morris apologized to the community and said she wants to move on with her life, take care of her daughter and do what’s right.
Urbik said people being sentenced often express concern for their children, but he wonders where that concern was at the time of the chase.
Witt responded that her concern for her child now shows she is a good risk to be placed on probation.
Judge John Wood said it was lucky the incident didn’t lead to multiple deaths.
“This is not your run-of-the-mill joy ride here,” the judge added.
Wood noted Morris admitted to taking drugs and drinking before the chase, saying, “We’re lucky you didn’t kill someone.”
Witt had argued that Morris would have been under the “watchful eye” of a probation agent if she got the probation sentence.
Wood said he had spent time with probation agents and believes they are overworked. As for the watchful eye, “I’m not convinced it’s as watchful as the courts would like it to be,” he said.
Wood sentenced Morris to two years in prison and three years of extended supervision. He made her eligible for prison drug and rehabilitation programs that could shorten her sentence.
He ordered absolute sobriety during supervision and no contact with the man accused of firing the gun that sparked the chase.
Wood rejected a request for time to allow Morris to get her affairs in order and sent her straight to prison, but in a move he said was rare for him, he allowed the sobbing Morris a moment to hug her mother.