Marijuana DUI charge in fatal accident dismissed

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TOULON – A long-running Stark County criminal case alleging that a Brimfield truck driver was under the influence of marijuana in an unusual fatal traffic accident more than three years ago has ended in dismissal of that charge.

Timothy Schwenk’s aggravated driving under the influence charge was dismissed Friday at the request of State’s Attorney Jim Owens, who said that the case could not proceed without key evidence that was thrown out by a judge last month.

Schwenk, 51, now faces only two traffic offenses instead of a felony that could have resulted in a prison term of up to 14 years.

Schwenk was backing a milk tanker-truck across both lanes of traffic into a dairy farm along Illinois Route 17 west of Toulon in the pre-dawn darkness on July 11, 2017. A 41-year-old Wyoming woman, Corina Miller, drove under the tanker and was killed at the scene.

Although two deputies later testified that Schwenk showed no signs of impairment that morning, he was charged on the basis of lab results on blood and urine tests and statements to police about having smoked marijuana the night before. But Circuit Judge Bruce Fehrenbacher granted a defense motion on Sept. 4 to suppress the statements and lab results.

“The suppression of the defendant’s statements and the test results of the chemical tests of the defendant’s blood and urine results in the People of the State of Illinois not being able to meet the evidentiary burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt,” Owens stated in the motion to dismiss. He declined to comment further outside court.

The traffic charges of unsafe backing on a roadway and driving without a safety certificate were scheduled for a stipulated bench trial on Nov. 20, just 10 days before Owens’ 28 years in office end in his retirement. https://www.pjstar.com/news/20201011/marijuana-dui-charge-in-fatal-accident-dismissed-in-stark-county

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