6 years for man involved in street racing accident that killed four

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UPDATE (6:30 p.m.) – Emotions boiled over after a Peoria County defendant was convicted of an aggravated street racing charge in an incident that left four young women dead.

Jerome Polnitz, 43, was sentenced to six years in prison on Wednesday. About two dozen friends and family of the four victims walked out of court shortly after the sentence was read, with some expressing their displeasure inside and outside the courthouse.

“The justice system is not a shit!” Margaret Williams, mother of Diamond Williams, shouted outside the courthouse.

There was also a verbal altercation between court security and the friends and family of the accused.

Several police cars arrived at the courthouse after the hearing, and court security was also out to help keep the peace.

The accident happened last September. Police said Polnitz drove the four women’s car on Washington Street in Peoria at speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour before the women’s car lost control and crashed.

Four textbook high school students were killed; Jazzman Burns, 22, Diamond Williams, 18, Quanylan Thomas, 19, and Tyesha Thomas, 18.

During the hearing, Williams also gave a victim impact statement in which she repeatedly asked Polnitz why he was running them.

Judge Kevin Lyons handed down the sentence, saying Polnitz’s long criminal history and numerous traffic citations played a role in his sentence.

“When you go south, you go there on a rocket,” Lyons said. “You screwed up your life.”

The maximum sentence that could be imposed was 10 years due to a plea agreement. Lyons credited Polnitz with admitting his mistake by pleading guilty.

Polnitz also spoke in court, offering what Judge Lyons called a genuine apology to the families of the victims. Polnitz said not a day goes by that he doesn’t think about what happened.

[There are] no words i can offer [to the families]”Polnitz said.” I have also disappointed my own family and friends. I apologize.”


PEORIA (WEEK) – Jerome Polnitz was sentenced to six years in prison for the fatal street racing accident that left four people dead in September 2020.

Polnitz, 43, was in court on Wednesday, where prosecutors requested a 10-year sentence for the defendant, who pleaded guilty to his involvement in the August crash.

After the sentence was read, officers were called to the courthouse to keep the peace among the group of people present.

After his release, Polnitz must serve one year on parole.

Police said Polnitz was in a street race with another car that crashed into a tree in Washington and Darst Streets.

Four textbook high school students were killed; Jazzman Burns, 22, Diamond Williams, 18, Quanylan Thomas, 19, and Tyesha Thomas, 18.

This story will be updated.


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