Driver in fatal crash had admitted guilt in prior alcohol-related incidents

2012-09-20T22:00:00Z 2013-05-08T17:10:07Z Driver in fatal crash had admitted guilt in prior alcohol-related incidentsSusan Brown susan.brown@nwi.com (219) 662-5325 nwitimes.com
September 20, 2012 10:00 pm  • 

CROWN POINT | The Chesterton man charged with multiple drunken driving counts in the death of a St. John woman was charged in prior alcohol-related incidents that later were reduced to lesser offenses.

Lake County prosecutors this week charged Michael Knezevich, 26, with causing death when operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content of 0.15 or more. If convicted on this most serious of four counts, he faces a maximum 20-year sentence.

When transported to a local hospital following Saturday's three-car crash that killed 66-year-old Sandra Marvel, of St. John, a blood serum test showed Knezevich driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.271.

Police reported a whole blood reading of 0.216, as required by the Indiana State Police in crash reports, police said Thursday. The state-mandated BAC limit of 0.08 is based on a reading of whole blood.

Knezevich also faces maximum eight-year penalties if convicted of reckless homicide and causing death with operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated.

He faces a maximum three-year penalty if convicted of causing serious bodily injury when driving while intoxicated.

Knezevich is free on a $60,000 bond. Court records show he was freed from the Lake County Jail on Thursday afternoon after paying a $6,000 bond.   

Marvel's husband was hospitalized in serious condition following the crash. The driver of the third vehicle was treated at a local hospital and released.

Knezevich has other alcohol-related offenses on his record.

In March 2010, Lake County court records show three OWI counts against Knezevich resulted in two counts being dismissed while Knezevich pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of public intoxication.

The following November, of two OWI counts, one count was dismissed and the other reduced to reckless driving to which Knezevich pleaded guilty.

Knezevich's court record in Lake County is riddled with 16 additional traffic-related arrests occurring through much of the county — in Griffith, Hobart, Merrillville, Highland, New Chicago, Hammond and Munster beginning in 2007.

They range from driving while suspended to speeding, ignoring traffic signals and not wearing a safety belt.

A 2007 charge of driving with an open alcohol container remains unresolved five years later, according to court records.

In July 2009, Knezevich pleaded guilty to possession of marijuana in an incident in Griffith as he did in November 2006 in Portage, where additional charges of maintaining a common nuisance and minor consuming alcohol were dismissed.

Knezevich's record in Porter County shows no drunken driving charges and only minor traffic-related offenses, prosecutors said Thursday.

But, as in Lake County, they include driving while suspended to which he pleaded guilty in 2009.

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