Chesterton man's trial delayed in fatal DUI case

2014-03-24T20:04:00Z 2014-03-25T00:04:05Z Chesterton man's trial delayed in fatal DUI caseLu Ann Franklin Times Correspondent
March 24, 2014 8:04 pm  • 

CROWN POINT | A judge on Monday postponed a jury trial for a Chesterton man accused of driving drunk and killing a St. John woman in September 2012.

Michael Thomas Knezevich, 27, is charged with Class B felony operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content in excess of 0.15 that resulted in death and three alcohol-related Class C felonies, including reckless homicide.

Defense attorney Paul Stracci filed a legal motion in Judge Samuel Cappas’ Lake Criminal Court to suppress court documents that led to Knezevich’s arrest and charges.

Stracci says Lake County sheriff's police violated Knezevich's constitutional rights under the 4th Amendment by taking his blood to test for alcohol content. A test at Franciscan St. Anthony Health, where Knezevich was taken after the crash, showed his blood alcohol content was 0.18, according to court documents. Indiana's legal limit is 0.08.

Police collected Knezevich's blood based on a probable cause document, which does not require a judge's signature. Stracci says officers should have obtained a search warrant, which is signed by a judge, before taking his client's blood.

Police said Knezevich was involved in a crash Sept. 15, 2012, at U.S. 41 and U.S. 231 that killed Sandra Marvel, 66. She was a passenger in a car driven by her husband, who was hospitalized in serious condition.

Police said Knezevich was driving north on U.S. 41 when he disregarded a red light and crashed into the passenger side of the Marvels’ car, which was heading east on U.S. 231.

If Cappas rules to suppress the blood alcohol content evidence, Lake County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Mark Watson likely will appeal the ruling to the Indiana appellate court. Stracci likely would appeal if the judge rules to deny suppression.

No new trial date has been set.

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