AS HE HAS DURING THE entire Matthew Ruble case, defense attorney Jesse Gilsdorf used Monday’s sentencing to talk about other people not being charged with providing alcohol to minors.
His client was sentenced Monday to 14 years in prison for aggravated driving under the influence. Two of the three people Ruble crashed into last April — Jordan Schieferdecker and Alissa Zornes — died after the accident on Ill. 104 near Five Points.
Gilsdorf constantly brought up other issues during the case, disputing testimony Ruble was in the wrong lane of traffic, and instead focusing in on the Ashley Grave, the driver of the other car who survived, and her blood alcohol level of .067.
Gilsdorf called three people to the stand as defense witnesses Monday, two Illinois State Police troopers and a woman who apparently complained many times about partying in a certain location.
Ruble testified he went to the Payson residence of Veronica Carter, a fellow Influent employee and supervisor, to party that fateful night.
Ruble said he’d been pressured to party with Carter for three weeks, and he finally gave in. He got a friend identified only as “Pete” to buy his beer and vodka in Quincy, then drove to the Payson residence.
He gave his keys to Carter since they were partying and intended on staying there overnight, he said.
Once there, he claimed to have downed at least 20 shots of vodka. Ruble said Carter made him drinks that night. Later in the evening a dispute arose after some “drama” involving other girls, Ruble said. He said he was tired of the drama and doesn’t remember leaving. Police said previously that Ruble hit a garage and caused property damage when he left.
Ruble says he drove back to Quincy, got “scared” because he was intoxicated and driving, and decided to drive to Baylis where his family lived.
Gilsdorf wondered why Carter wasn’t arrested, though investigators say they were not sure who supplied alcohol at the party. He wondered why the people in Liberty, where Zornes, Schieferdecker and Grave were visiting before the crash, were not arrested.
For all his posturing and attempts to blame others, Gilsdorf failed to impress family members of the victims.
“I am not blaming Ashley,” said Amy Zornes, Alissa Zornes’ mother. “Too many witnesses said you (Ruble) crossed the line.”
Judge Scott Walden was patient during the hearing. At one point he cut Gilsdorf off and said he wasn’t interested in who prosecutors should or will arrest in connection with the case.
Amy Zornes had the last word. As she left the stand after a powerful victim impact statement, she glared at Gilsdorf and said, “Know your code of ethics.”
Gilsdorf protested to the judge about irrelevant comments, saying they didn’t pertain to the victims. Zornes then chided the Mount Sterling attorney for inappropriate laughter during the hearings.
“I am a victim, big-time,” Zornes said, striding back to her seat.