A suicidal ex-model from Illinois was found guilty but mentally ill for killing three beloved local musicians in an attempt to end her own life.
"She never touched her brakes, she never attempted to maneuver around the other car," said Cook County Judge Garritt E. Howard, according to the Chicago Sun Times. "The evidence is overwhelming the defendant was trying to commit suicide."
Howard ruled Jeanette Sliwinski was guilty of three counts of reckless homicide and one count of aggravated battery. She faces a maximum of 10 years in prison.
"I believe the defendant was being truthful when she said she only intended to hurt herself and no one else,'' said Howard, who heard the case without a jury.
Defense attorneys had argued that Sliwinski, then 23, was suffering from delusions when she struck a Honda Civic stopped at a red light in a northern Chicago suburb in July 2005. The car was carrying Michael Dahlquist, 39; John Glick, 35; and Douglas Meis, 29, three musicians who worked day jobs together at an audio electronics company.
Sliwinski will be transferred to a mental institution, and if at some point she is deemed mentally competent, she'll be moved to a prison, according to The Associated Press.
For the family of one of the victims, Sliwinski's actions still engender the kind of bitterness so common to grieving relatives.
"The one thing that would have brought this thing to closure would have been had she been successful in what she set out to do that day," David Meis, brother of victim Douglas Meis, told ABC News at the start of the trial, referring to the suicide attempt.
"She left this big, open-ended, ironic twist, in that she took three wonderful, beautiful lives and walked away with a broken ankle," Meis said. He said that his father was a Navy pilot and that the family moved often.
"A lot of time when you move like that, your best friends become your brothers. We were a very close-knit family."
The crash and subsequent arrest brought Sliwinski Internet infamy. Many blogs and Web sites have posted modeling pictures of Sliwinski since she was arrested.
Police testified that Sliwinski told them she'd had a fight with her mother that day, and en route to a psychiatry appointment sought to kill herself. The young woman drove through three red lights at 70 mph, police and prosecutors said at the time.
The 2000 Ford Mustang hit the Honda Civic so hard it threw both cars into the air, each landing upside down, crushed against the pavement.
The depth of the tragedy has not been lost on Sliwinski. Four days after the crash, she released a statement from her hospital bed, where she was recovering from the ankle injury under police guard.
"I pray and beg for forgiveness from everyone who is saddened by the deaths," she said in the statement, on behalf of her and her parents, Ted and Ursula.
"If we had an explanation for what happened, we would tell you what it is, but we have no explanation," the statement continued.
"We have only our heartfelt grief and prayers. We are all praying for the families of these fine young men and for the many friends whose lives were touched by their music and love."
College Grad, Lingerie Model
Sliwinski reportedly graduated from Columbia College, earning a degree in marketing and education in 2004. Her slender figure graced the pages of the Chicago's City Girls calendar in 2002 and 2003. She'd also done other modeling, including a Lee Jeans ad, a Frederick's of Hollywood lingerie show and assorted trade shows, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
Sliwinski has been through several attorneys since her legal odyssey began, each of whom argued in one form or another that she was suffering from mental problems at the time of the crash.
Sergio Tovar, the manager of a Mattress World retail store near the site of the crash, described hearing a loud thud outside his store as he chatted with a client, according to a 2005 Sun-Times report.
"A quarter of a second after that, the [Mustang] was airborne," he told the newspaper. He said he ran outside carrying a pillow. He saw the Honda flipped over, he said at the time, with the rear end crushed into the back passenger seat.
There was a body in the middle of the road, Tovar said. And beside it was Sliwinski's car. He said her feet were dangling from the passenger-side window.
"She said, 'Get me out of here,'" Tovar said.