Riverside Police Use Private Crime Lab For Quicker Results, Charges

Bernie Tafoya
July 26, 2019 - 1:39 pm
Carlos R. Arambula

Riverside police


CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- A west suburban police department said reckless homicide charges were able to be placed more quickly against a 19-year-old man because the department used a private crime lab instead of the Illinois State Police crime lab to test evidence.

Riverside Police Chief Tom Weitzel said that, two days after 20-year-old passenger Brandon Cerero was killed in a high-speed crash in Riverside, detectives were told by the state police crime lab it could be 90 to 120 days before toxicology results would be back for the driver's blood and urine. 

Chief Weitzel wanted to give answers more quickly to Cerero's family and decided to use UIC Analytical Forensic Testing Laboratory, a private lab authorized by state police.

"They had the results back in nine days and the results showed that the driver had cannabis and Xanax in his system," according to Weitzel.

Chief Weitzel said he used money given to police departments upon successful DUI convictions to pay for the private lab.  He said he'll use money from that fund again when it's time to pay a crime lab analyst to testify at driver Carlos Arambula’s trial. Aramula is charged with reckless homicide and aggravated drugged driving.

The chief said the Riverside DUI Conviction Fund has about $40,000 in it.

Chief Tom Weitzel said he is not blaming the state police crime lab for taking so long to turn around evidence. He said crime lab techs are doing the best they can, but that there's likely staffing and funding issues involved. He suggests the state legislature provide the crime lab with more money.

A man is facing DUI and reckless homicide charges for a June 20, 2019, crash that killed his passenger in Riverside.
Riverside police

Chief Weitzel said on June 20, Carlos Arambula was allegedly driving a 1998 Lexus at 63 mph when he lost control shortly after midnight and slammed the car into a tree, police said. Responding officers arrived to find the car “wrapped around” the tree and a second car, a 1999 Jaguar, stopped nearby.

Brandon Cerero was in the back seat of the Lexus at the time of the crash, police and the Cook County medical examiner’s office said. He was pronounced dead at 12:44 a.m. at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood.

An autopsy found Cerero, who lived in Chicago, died of multiple injuries from the crash and ruled his death an accident, the medical examiner’s office said.

Investigators learned Arambula was following some friends in the Jaguar when he lost control while trying to pass them, police said.

Arambula was arrested Wednesday at his home in Lyons, police said. In addition to the felonies, he was charged with a misdemeanor count of driving under the influence of drugs and issued traffic citations for improper lane usage, driving too fast for conditions, driving without insurance, driving while having never been issued a license and damage to village property.

Weitzel said Arambula has never had a valid driver's license and was previously arrested in Berwyn for driving without a license.

Judge Stanley L. Hill ordered Arambula held without bail during a hearing Thursday at the Maywood Courthouse, according to Cook County court records. His next court date was scheduled for July 29.