Driver Who Killed Bobby Cann Asked Judge For His Mercedes Back

Ryne San Hamel

At a September 23 court hearing, Ryne San Hamel, 28, who allegedly struck and killed bicyclist Bobby Cann, 25, while drunk and speeding, requested that the state give him back his impounded Mercedes, according to victim advocate Sharon Johnson. Prior to the hearing, the summary suspension of San Hamel’s driver’s license was rescinded, Johnson said. This meant the defendant, who is accused of killing Cann while driving 50 mph on a city street with a blood-alcohol content of .127, had been legal to drive for some time before the hearing.

At the hearing, the assistant state’s attorney filed a motion to amend the conditions of San Hamel’s bond so that he cannot drive, which Judge William Hooks approved, as well as the state’s request for random drug and alcohol testing for the defendant, Johnson said. However, a request for a curfew for San Hamel was denied. Johnson speculates this was because the Hooks felt a curfew would interfere with the defendant’s job with an “online directory for nightlife and entertainment” called All You Can Drink.

The fatal crash took place on May 29 on the 1300 block of North Clybourn in Old Town. San Hamel has been charged with reckless homicide, aggravated DUI, misdemeanor DUI, reckless driving, and failure to stay in the lane.

Johnson, who works for a local advocacy organization called the Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists, said about 20 Cann family supporters, mostly friends of the cyclist and Active Transportation Alliance staff, showed up for the recent hearing. “It’s obvious Bobby had a lot of friends and it really seems like he was an amazing kid,” Johnson said. Unlike the previous hearing on August 2, which drew some 55 supporters, the victim’s family did not attend. “It’s costly for them to fly in from the East Coast every month or so for hearings, so they are only coming for the most important court dates,” she said.

Bobby Cann. Photo: Groupon

Although the defense is arguing that there is no reason for the state to keep San Hamel’s vehicles, Johnson said the vehicle should remain impounded as evidence and for safety reasons, since this will help ensure that he doesn’t drive. “Also, the impact of giving someone back their car after they’ve killed a family member with it can be devastating,”she said.

The next hearing will take place this Monday, October 7, at 10 a.m. at the Cook County Courthouse at 26th and California in room 301. At this hearing Hooks will determine whether or not San Hamel can get his car back, Johnson said.

On Friday, October 25, at 1 p.m., there will be a ceremony to mark the installation of an honorary street sign for Cann at Clybourn and Larrabee. Cann, who worked at Groupon, has been widely described as a safe cycling advocate. “They’re doing it because of all his efforts to promote safe biking, so that’s pretty cool,” Johnson said.

A memorial for Bobby Cann on Clybourn Avenue.
A memorial for Bobby Cann on Clybourn Avenue. Photo: Steven Vance

The Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists was formed in 1982 by two family members of people killed by drunk drivers. “Back then the drinking age was 21 in Illinois but it was only 18 in Wisconsin, so a lot of young people would drive up there to drink and come home drunk,” Johnson said. “They called it the Blood Border because there were so many crashes. A few years later the federal government told states that if they didn’t raise their drinking age to 21 they would lose highway funds.” Currently AAIM does advocacy work in Cook County and some of the collar counties.

Johnson herself suffered a life-changing injury due to a drunk driver. She was working as a police officer in suburban Des Plaines when she responded to a DUI crash. “I was trying to get there quick when I drove over some grass and into a ditch,” she said. “That was my last day of work. I suffered severe spinal injuries and, after multiple back surgeries, I still have a severe spinal disability.”

After a drunk driver killed a friend of Johnson’s husband in Chicago, the family of the deceased needed a victim advocate, which motivated her to apply for a position with the alliance. “My job as an advocate is to go with the family to court and help them through the process,” she said. “No one really ever gets over their child getting killed by a DUI. You just learn to survive it.”

  • It’s too easy to drive here.
    I wonder how many random drug and alcohol tests this danger to society will get.

    Let me rephrase that. It’s too easy to turn a transportation mode into a weapon and then be able to continue wielding said weapon.

  • CL

    He might get the car back — he has a DUI and a suspended license, but people in those situations get their cars back after paying the fees. He hasn’t been found guilty of anything else yet (I’m sure he will be in the future, of course). So the state might not have legal grounds to keep the car. The best strategy is probably to argue that they need to keep it as evidence — hopefully that will allow them to keep it for now, because I do think he would just drive it again. He knew drunk driving was illegal and did that anyway.

    Also, I imagine the chances of getting caught driving with a suspended license are pretty slim. The last time I was pulled over was in 2007. (It was for pulling into a left turn lane before it officially started, if you’re wondering) Since then nobody has verified that I have a drivers’ license. I could have left it at home for years and it wouldn’t have made any difference.

  • Jakub Muszynski

    I think I might look into buying http://www.allyoucandrink(dot)org and http://www.allyoucandrink(dot)info I really am upset with the mere existence of the businesses site and I think the other domain names might be a good thing to hold onto. A memorial page would be great to keep on the aforementioned derivatives of http://www.allyoucandrink(dot)com

    I removed the dot to prevent any links to the distasteful site.

  • Anonymous

    “…because the judge felt a curfew would interfere with the defendant’s job with an “online directory…

    Can’t he do this from home? Doesn’t he have an internet connection at home? Why does he need to drive to run a web site?

    Thanks, John, for the information. There’s a lot more information here on than anyplace else I’ve seen.

  • Katja

    I’m not a criminal lawyer or anything, but I don’t think a judge’s first concern during the pendency of a felony case should be the defendant’s ability to continue working.

  • Sure thing Bob. Thanks for your advocacy work re: this case.

  • I do have a question about taking away the car, and it’s a big tangential to this situation, but here goes:

    Outside apartment and office buildings with fences you often see “bikes parked here will be removed and discarded.” Is that legal? Can they really take my bike and “discard” it? I assume that means throw it out. Now think about parked cars. Anywhere a car is parked in a tow zone (the equivalent to chaining a bike to a fence that has the remove-discard sign), it will be towed and stored until someone comes to collect and pay the fee for it, presumably because a car is more expensive than a bike.

    What I’m getting at is that they shouldn’t give him the car back – do murderers get their guns back after they’re taken for evidence? Hold on to that car forever. Take it away just as he took someone’s life away.

  • Anonymous

    Innocent til proven guilty. Or would you have us treat everyone who is arrested as if they’ve already been convicted, except for the locking ’em up part? Or just the guys who really make you mad (as this dude rightly does)?

    Not that that is in *any* way supportive of this dude, but he is entitled to be treated as any other American under indictment.

    What I would do, were I the judge, is require a gps anklet, and make sure some of those ‘random’ tests occurred on Friday and Saturday nights, when the anklet shows he’s out having ‘all you can drink’. He can work, but he damn well better not be violating terms of his bail while doing so.

  • Anonymous

    What does he need the car for? His drivers license was suspended by the court.

  • Adam Herstein

    You can’t just buy a domain that someone else owns.

  • well it’s certainly worth some money, right?

  • tamanduabeijo

    He said he is thinking about purchasing .org and .info top level domains for “allyoucandrink”, not the “allyoucandrink” .com top level domain, which is currently associated with a (barely) functional website.

  • Anonymous

    The big difference between a tow zone on the street and a fence is that the street is public property and the fence is not. The correct corollary would be to parking in a private lot and getting towed by the lot owner. If you read those signs, the tow fees and storage are significantly higher than being towed by the city, but definitely not an immediate discarding of it. As to a bike chained to a public fence, I don’t think the owner discarding the bike would be 100% legal, but I doubt there’s much if any case law to back that up.

  • Anonymous

    Exactly, it’s still his property. Due Process, 5th amendment, etc. If the prosecution does not still need it for evidence and there is no law allowing the state to otherwise keep it (apparently there isn’t), then it has to be returned to him, whether he can personally use it or not.

    He may very well need to sell it to pay for his lawyers.

  • Good point.

  • Jakub Muszynski

    Thanks, that is exactly what I was trying to get across.

  • Katja

    A lot of people are locked up while waiting for trial after killing someone. They get credit for time served when they’re ultimately sentenced. This dude has money, so he got out on bail. Now he has requested, effectively, the murder weapon back. I don’t know why the State’s Attorney can’t argue that they must continue to hold it as evidence.

    Innocent until proven guilty doesn’t mean that you get to live your life just like you used to until your trial is complete; clearly, he’s under certain rules regarding his alcohol intake and ability to drive a vehicle. Why _not_ prohibit the guy who is accused of a felony DUI and vehicular homicide from working at his “All you can drink” business and having his car?

  • Anonymous

    He got his “Due Process” during the bond hearing. If the States Attorney can convince the judge the car need to be held in evidence than the judge can issue the order that the car is retained by the state.

  • Anonymous

    Well of course if it’s still needed for evidence, it can be held, I said that already. That’s not what you said initially. You said “What does he need the car for?”, which is not the question at hand. The question at hand is whether the state has a legal basis to still hold his vehicle.

  • Anonymous

    I suspect that the question “What do you need the car for?” would be a good question for Judge William Hooks to ask, if the question comes up at the next hearing will be Monday, October 7th, Rm. 301 at 26th and California. at 10:00 a.m.

  • BrownBrown

    I think George Zimmerman got his gun back. So, yes.

  • Anonymous

    That question simply isn’t material under the law. If the state does not have a legal basis to hold the vehicle, he gets it back.

    Despite the large amount of evidence against him, Mr. San Hamel is still innocent until PROVEN guilty in a court of law. Until then, he maintains his constitutional rights, specifically the 5th amendment’s prohibition on the government taking property without due process. Whether he needs it or not doesn’t matter.

    All this said, it’s highly unlikely he gets his car back anyway, because it is very obviously a piece of evidence in the case.

  • Anonymous

    Dated July 19th, most recent I can find. Say’s he WON’T get his gun back.

  • Cameron Puetz

    He hasn’t been convicted of anything yet, so in the eyes of the court he it’s still innocent. The car is his property, without some compelling state interest (i.e. holding evidence), the court has no basis for depriving him of his property. He may be a terrible person, but even terrible people have rights.

  • Scott Sanderson

    Yes, he needs his car in order to keep posting quality content on the Facebook page like this:

    and this

  • Cameron Puetz

    He has been charged with DUI but has not been convicted of anything, this is a key distinction. The courts can’t factor the DUI into any decision until he is convicted. The main purpose of bail hearings is to make sure he keeps showing up for court.

  • Anonymous

    i seen a car and biker get into it today they had words & the biker pulled well tried a couple of times to get his lock. if it makes you mad talk shit if it’s a near miss ask what spidey would do. sometimes it’s better to keep your cool and to go in piece than to let a mistake leave both lives in pieces.

  • Pffffft

    “Johnson SPECULATES this was because the Hooks felt a curfew would interfere with the defendant’s job with an ‘online directory for nightlife and entertainment’ called All You Can Drink.” You left that part out.

    More likely, the judge, if he decides to return the vehicle, it will because of the drivers 5th ammendment rights. If the States Attorney has gathered all the evidence it needs from the car: Photos, DNA, etc., and cannot make a reasonable case for continuing to hold on to it, then there is no reason to hold on to it. It’s not like if they went to trial they’re going to drive the thing into the courtroom anyway.

    And as far as him driving it, it hit a bicyclists and their bike at a high rate of speed, careened into the other lane and slammed into another car coming the opposite direction. It very well may not even be driveable. If anything he’s probably looking to sell it, which is his right, it’s his property.

    Furthermore, if he did drive the thing, he’s taking an INCREDIBLE risk because it would be a violation of his bond, meaning if he were caught it would be revoked and he’d spend the rest of his pre-trial period IN JAIL. So in one way, those who want to burn this guy at the stake before our legal system has actually had a chance to work, should kinda hope he gets his car back and drives it.

    This is a mountain being made out of a molehill.

  • Let the process work

    A lot of people are locked up while waiting for trial…period. And those eventually found innocent, well, sorry about those 18 months we took. It’s not a good thing. Especially since it’s all about who can afford to post bond and who can’t.

    We have a judicial process in this society, with things like presumed innocence and 5th ammendment rights and all the rest. It may not be perfect but if we start tossing it out everytime we’re affected personally by a crime and just say “screw the process, I know they’re guilty, just throw the book at ’em”, then things get ugly real quick and you wind up in a world that I don’t think most people really want to live in.

    On the other hand, if you give the defendant their due process, and play it by the book, and they’re found guilty, no one can come back and say they we’re railroaded, or cry “unfair”. It’s frustrating, but it’s not designed to satisfy short term desires and heat of the moment emotions for a reason.

  • BrownBrown

    The gun is being held as evidence, not as punishment for murder or death. The recent car chase in the capital was ended with the unarmed driver shot dead by the police. Officials were quoted as saying that she was using her car as a weapon. The fact that such a large majority of the population drives is the greatest impediment to the idea that cars are more powerful than many weapons, and that cars are frequently deliberately used as weapons, most often to threaten pedestrians or cyclists in the roadway. Unfortunately, in most circumstances it’s essentially legal to do so.

  • Katja

    Yeah, I took Criminal Procedure in law school, too. I agree with what you’re saying, to a point.

    Thing is, presumed innocence and 5A rights and the like DO NOT guarantee that an accused get the murder weapon back.

  • Pamela Neville

    No I don’t think he should ever get his car back or his license. He should go to jail for murder. He used his car like a weapon when he drove it drunk and killed Bobby.

  • m

    Because this is America


Video Shows Bobby Cann Crash Happened at the Intersection

View Larger Map The crash site from the driver’s perspective. Security camera footage recently obtained by the State’s Attorney’s Office shows that motorist Ryne San Hamel fatally struck cyclist Robert “Bobby” Cann at the intersection of Clybourn and Larrabee, according to victim advocate Sharon Johnson. Previously the authorities did not know if the crash happened […]