Jesse Vega was caught Wednesday after escaping on his way to court in Elgin. He's accused of viciously beating his girlfriend in the parking lot of Six Flags Great America last year. | Photo provided
Updated: July 18, 2014 1:51AM
ELGIN — Almost exactly 24 hours after he escaped from an Elgin Mental Health Center vehicle and led some 50 police officers on an eight-hour search, Jesse Vega was back in court Thursday morning.
He told a bond court judge he hears voices in his head and begged for mental treatment. Judge Robert Villa set bond at $1 million on the new felony escape charge, and told Vega a Lake County judge had also set his bond at $1 million for charges related to the 2013 beating of his girlfriend at Six Flags Great America in Gurnee.
Vega, 33, of Chicago, managed to get out of the mental health center van about 7:45 a.m. Wednesday while it was stopped at the BP station at Dundee Avenue and Summit Street in Elgin. He ran away, at least one hand still in cuffs.
Police from multiple agencies searched through the day with assault rifles, a helicopter and dogs. Vega was caught about 4 p.m. after he came out of hiding in the 400 block of Prospect Boulevard, got into a cab and asked for a ride to O’Hare, officials said. The cab driver recognized him and police also were alerted by a woman who saw him come out of her backyard and get into the cab.
The cab diver pulled into a parking lot around the corner from where Vega had escaped as Vega used the driver’s cellphone, trying to persuade a friend to pay for the cab ride by credit card. Police soon swarmed the cab, taking Vega into custody.
Vega appeared in bond court Thursday via video link.
Villa informed Vega of the charges, and said when Vega failed to show up for the Lake County court hearing, a judge there added another $1 million to his bond.
In Lake County, Vega is charged with eight felonies: two counts each of aggravated domestic battery, aggravated battery causing great bodily harm and aggravated battery in a public place; and one count each of obstruction of justice and aggravated DUI.
He is accused of attacking a female companion in the Six Flags parking lot on Sept. 29, 2013, beating her so badly that she sustained a skull fracture. The DUI was considered “aggravated” because Vega’s driver’s license already had been suspended or revoked.
On April 28, a Lake County judge declared Vega “unfit to stand trial” because of his mental condition and sent him to the Elgin center to be evaluated and treated. When Vega escaped, he was en route to the Lake County courthouse for a follow-up hearing to decide whether he is still mentally unfit to face trial.
In Elgin bond court Thursday, Vega told Judge Villa that over the past two months, he has received tests of his fitness for court but no real treatment.
“They ask me if I know what goes on in court. That’s not hard,” Vega told the judge. “But they haven’t given me any treatment for my problem. I hear things.”
“You are hearing things?” the judge asked.
“Voices,” Vega said.
An assistant state’s attorney said Vega has a record of drug and DUI convictions dating back to 1998.
The judge then ordered that he be taken to the Kane County Jail unless he can post 10 percent of the combined $2 million bond from the two counties. The judge also ordered the Kane County Diagnostic Center to perform a new evaluation of his mental fitness. He is to return to court in St. Charles on July 28.
The U.S. Attorney’s office in Chicago said Wednesday that Vega also is wanted on a federal warrant for violating parole by being arrested on the Great America charges.
The parole, called “supervised release” in the federal system, followed his serving an 86-month sentence for participating in a 2006 scam in which he and other defendants listed items for sale on eBay, made buyers pay through Western Union money transfers, but never delivered the items.
Contributing: Sun-Times Media Wire, Elgin Courier-News and Lake County News-Sun