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OTTAWA — A Mokena man was sentenced Thursday to 13½ years in prison for leading police on a three-county chase in a stolen pickup. But Daniel Bakalik also left court with a judge’s recommendation that he receive psychiatric treatment for an undisputed mental health condition while he serves out his prison sentence. He could be released in late 2020. Bakalik, 37, had entered a blind plea in January to one count of unlawful possession of a stolen motor vehicle. Due to his lengthy record, he was deemed a habitual offender and faced 6-30 years with no possibility of probation. When offered a chance to speak, Bakalik read from a statement in which he apologized for his acts — and said he intended to return the pickup truck — but also noted he suffers from unspecified mental illnesses for which he needs treatment, not prison. “I surely want to change the pattern of my life,” Bakalik said. A recent visit with a court-appointed psychiatrist affirmed his condition and, “I’m hopeful (that) will lead to different results in my life.” Judge Cynthia M. Raccuglia told Bakalik she believed he was sincere and acknowledged his need for psychiatric treatment. But the judge also declined to hand down a minimum sentence, believing Bakalik remains a danger to others. Bakalik was charged after an Ottawa woman called police around 4:30 a.m. Oct. 18 and reported her pickup had been stolen. An Ottawa police officer on patrol spotted the truck 30 minutes later on westbound Norris Drive near Clinton Street. The officer signaled for Bakalik to stop; but Bakalik disregarded the signal and attempted to elude police, even driving the wrong way on La Salle Street. Police deployed a “stop stick” that deflated one of the truck tires, but Bakalik continued onto Interstate 80 eastbound and led police to the Will County line. There, Bakalik left the roadway, drove the truck into a cornfield and fled on foot. State police quickly apprehended him. At sentencing Thursday, Raccuglia settled on a prison term midway between the 10 years requested by public defender Tim Cappellini and the 16 years requested by assistant La Salle County state’s attorney Jeremiah Adams. Adams cited the length of Bakalik’s record and the great potential for injury during the October chase. “His criminal history is, for lack of a better word, atrocious,” Adams said.
Tom Collins can be reached at (815) 220-6930 or courtreporter@newstrib. com.
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