20 years for man who sped from Chicago police in a hijacked SUV, leading to a crash that killed a mother of six in Lakeview

CHICAGO — It’s been nearly four years since Marcel Oliver led Chicago police on a high-speed pursuit across the city that only ended after a CPD squad car rocketed through a red light at a busy Lakeview intersection and killed the driver of an oncoming car. On Thursday, Oliver pleaded guilty to two felonies in exchange for a 20-year prison sentence.

But the events of that night in June 2020 reached far and wide. The crash killed Guadalupe Francisco-Martinez, a 37-year-old mother of six. The city paid out a $15 million settlement to her family after it was revealed that the pursuing officers had been ordered to terminate the chase. CPD leaders launched a review of the department’s pursuit policy, and an investigation of the officers’ actions by the city’s police oversight agency has not yet been resolved.

Oliver, now 26, pleaded guilty Thursday to vehicular hijacking and reckless vehicular homicide in a construction zone before Judge Laura Ayala-Gonzalez, according to court records. The judge handed him six years for the carjacking and 14 consecutive years for the reckless homicide charge, which was reduced from murder during the commission of a forcible felony.

Guadalupe Francisco-Martinez, Marcel Oliver, and a frame from the crash video. (GoFundMe, Cook County sheriff’s office, City of Chicago)

The string of events leading up to Francisco-Martinez’s death began about two hours before the crash when Illinois State Police troopers saw Oliver driving a Jeep that had been linked to several crimes in the suburbs, officials said. Chicago squad cars and the CPD helicopter joined ISP in the pursuit.

Oliver eventually crashed the Jeep on the Northwest Side and ran to a nearby service station. There, he stole another SUV that had been left idling at a gas pump. Police began chasing Oliver again at high speeds on surface streets across the North Side, eventually entering the Lakeview neighborhood shortly before 10 p.m.

The pursuit sped along Irving Park Road. Oliver sped through a red light at Ashland Avenue with a CPD squad car running hot on his tail at 98 mph. The squad also ran the red light just as Francisco-Martinez, driving home from her first day at a new job, entered the intersection. Footage from a city surveillance camera, first secured by Megan Hickey at CBS2, showed the horrific crash:

Upon slamming into Francisco-Martinez’s car, the squad spun violently, slamming into another SUV that was waiting for the light to change. Three people in that car were hospitalized, police said at the time. Two officers, ages 25 and 22, in the squad car were also injured.

Even after the crash, Oliver kept driving. Police arrested him about 20 minutes later after he crashed in Bridgeport. Officials said he ran from the scene, but cops caught up with him after he became entangled in barbed wire atop a fence.

Prosecutors said Francisco-Martinez was bringing pizza home for her children when she died. In September 2022, the city approved a $15 million payment to her survivors. City attorneys argued that the officers who slammed into her car that night had been ordered to terminate the chase. Going to trial could have resulted in an even bigger payout, they said.

“If [Oliver] had just stopped,” Judge Arthur Willis reflected during Oliver’s initial bail hearing, “none of this would have occurred.”

Two months after the crash, CPD issued a new, 11-page vehicle pursuit policy that, among other things, states no Chicago police officer will be penalized for ending a motor vehicle pursuit.

Oliver will have to serve 50% of his 20-year sentence. Those ten years will be reduced further by the 1,591 credit days he earned while the case was pending.

About Tim Hecke 300 Articles
Tim Hecke is CWBChicago's managing partner. He started his career at KMOX, the legendary news radio station in St. Louis. From there, he moved on to work at stations in Minneapolis, Chicago, and New York City. Tim went on to build syndicated radio news and content services that served every one of America's 100 largest radio markets. He became CWBChicago's managing partner in 2019. His email address is tim@cwbchicago.com