Driver in Ill. Firefighter's Death will Not Get Reduced Sentence

Bloomington Firefighter Chris Brown was struck along an interstate.

May 30--BLOOMINGTON -- A Washington state man was unable to persuade a McLean County judge on Thursday to reconsider his sentence for causing the death of firefighter Chris Brown more than a year ago on Interstate 39.

On May 16, Associate Judge Casey Costigan sentenced Mansur Shakirov to four years in prison after a jury convicted him in March of felony reckless homicide. That is one year more than the minimum set by Illinois statute.

Brown, a career firefighter with the Bloomington Fire Department, died March 5, 2013, when he was struck by the semitrailer truck driven by Shakirov. At the time, Brown was working as a volunteer with the Hudson Fire Department at an accident scene on an icy stretch of the interstate near Hudson.

Shakirov's attorney, Chris Gramm, argued the sentence "in light of the evidence presented" at the trial was "excessive."

Gramm also cited an Illinois Supreme Court opinion that found a judge improperly relied upon an aggravating factor that the defendant's conduct caused serious harm to the victim to impose a sentence more severe than would have been imposed if the impermissible factor had not been considered.

Assistant State's Attorney Josh Rinker countered that Costigan had properly considered the aggravating factor of Shakirov's conduct causing or threatening serious harm as well as other factors favorable for the defendant.

At the sentencing hearing, Costigan said that while Shakirov did not contemplate doing serious harm or intend for the accident to happen, his actions not only threatened, but caused serious harm to people and that his responsibility was to obey all traffic laws.

"What I was talking about were the emergency vehicles directing traffic away from the scene ... not Mr. Brown's death," Costigan said. "The sentence was necessary to deter others from the same crime -- that was the overriding factor."

The case was "very difficult" in terms of what sentence to impose, said the judge, adding he felt the term was properly considered and imposed.

Shakirov will appeal his conviction and asked a state appellate defender be appointed to represent him.

Copyright 2014 - The Pantagraph, Bloomington, Ill.