Man’s Facebook posts could be used against him in reckless homicide case
BY JON SEIDEL email@example.com January 14, 2012 10:04PM
Marie Pouk, of Romeoville, holds onto a photo album that someone gave her in memory of her daughter Christina Jungkans, who was killed in a car wreck in May 2008. Tomasz Maciaszek is set to be sentenced this week for reckless homicide in the case. | Brett Roseman~Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 16, 2012 8:26AM
Tomasz Maciaszek thought he’d be sentenced last month for killing a 17-year-old Romeoville High School student when he sped recklessly into her car in May 2008.
He apologized to her family, and he told Will County Judge Amy Bertani-Tomczak he has been fighting a battle with depression and insomnia. He said he has been secluded in his room, haunted by her death.
“I do not have anyone to blame but myself,” Maciaszek said, “and at times I find it very difficult to bear.”
Then a Will County prosecutor put the sentencing on hold, asking the judge to take a look at Maciaszek’s Facebook page. He said it “refutes a lot of what (Maciaszek) just said.”
Now Maciaszek’s social network posts could play a role when a judge punishes him for reckless homicide in the death of Christina Jungkans. He and Jungkans’ family return to court Wednesday to learn his fate.
It’s not clear what Maciaszek posted on Facebook — the Will County State’s Attorney’s Office won’t say. Marie Pouk, Jungkans’ mother, said she heard Maciaszek made comments on the site about drinking and spending time at bars, a contrast to his claims of seclusion.
It’s not the way she said she’d behave if she knew she was responsible for the death of someone’s daughter.
“I’d be hanging my head,” Pouk said.
A sudden death
The fatal accident happened May 9, 2008, shortly after Jungkans left school for the day, Pouk said. Maciaszek wove back and forth between lanes on 135th Street, prosecutors said, driving as fast as 72 to 82 miles per hour. He apparently was not under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Jungkans was trying to make a left-hand turn onto 135th from Hale Avenue at the same time. Police said Maciaszek plowed into her driver-side door, and she died a short time later at Adventist Bolingbrook Hospital.
Her sudden death left Jungkans’ family and friends suffering through “sort of a nightmare that you never wake up from,” according to Roseann Hookom, her aunt. Pouk said she still hates to drive and is sometimes overwhelmed with anxiety at the thought of getting behind the wheel.
And now Pouk lives alone in Romeoville, robbed of a child she said was “always smiling” and never mad. She said Jungkans aspired to be a judge advocate general lawyer after joining ROTC in high school.
Monika Szwab, Jungkans’ best friend since middle school, said her classmate tried to make her a better person.
“I haven’t found a great friend like that since,” Szwab said.
‘A changed person’
Maciaszek’s attorney, Terry Wallace, declined to comment about his client’s case.
But he and fellow defense attorney Ted Hammel have disputed the credibility of witnesses who said Maciaszek was speeding. They also said it’s not clear whether Jungkans came to a full stop before turning or if she could see around bushes at the intersection.
They argued he deserves a new trial, and they objected to Walsh’s late submission of Maciaszek’s Facebook pages. At the same time, they’ve said Jungkans’ death altered their client’s life forever.
“You see a changed person,” Hammel told the judge last month. “He can’t undo what has happened, and what has happened is truly horrific.”
Though Wallace and Hammel will likely argue for probation for Maciaszek, Pouk struggles when asked what sentence she’d like the judge to hand down.
She is torn between her Christianity and the anguish she feels as a mother who lost a child.
But she said punishing Maciaszek to the fullest extent of the law — five years in prison — could send a message to other young adults who think there are no consequences on the road.
“They’re going to think twice about the way they’re driving,” Pouk said.