Plea entered in OWI case that killed woman, injured girls

2013-03-15T14:01:00Z 2013-03-15T19:34:04Z Plea entered in OWI case that killed woman, injured girlsStan Maddux Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
March 15, 2013 2:01 pm  • 

A Michigan City man has agreed to a 14-year prison sentence for killing a woman and critically injuring two sisters in a crash while driving impaired last year.

John Mikle, 36, entered a guilty plea in LaPorte Circuit Court on Friday that calls also calls for four years of probation.

The plea was taken under advisement, but if the terms are accepted Mikle will be convicted of Class B felony operating while intoxicated causing death and two counts of operating while intoxicated causing serious injury.

Mikle was under the influence of PCP when he veered over the center line on Joliet Road near Westville, striking an oncoming vehicle head-on, according to court documents.

The driver he hit, Katie Atkins, 26, of Valparaiso, was killed, and her passengers, 7-year-old Neilah Maule and 5-year-old Jaidyn Maule, of LaPorte, were injured. They are still recovering from their injuries.

Atkins, who was the girlfriend of the girls' father, was taking the children to their grandmother's home in LaPorte.

Neilah nearly died and surprised doctors by taking a breath when removed from a ventilator, LaPorte Mayor Blair Milo said during a ceremony Thursday naming the girls ambassadors for the city honoring the fighting spirit and courage shown in their recoveries.

Neilah, the most seriously injured of the girls, sustained a traumatic brain injury and major injuries to other areas. It could be months or years before the extent of her recovery is known, said her father, Sam Maule also of LaPorte.

"It remains to be seen. She's doing well, though, on the whole," Maule said.

Under terms of the plea, the court will recommend to the Indiana Department of Correction that Mikle while incarcerated be placed in a therapeutic community for drug addicted offenders and participate in other self-help programs.

Judge Tom Alevizos, if he accepts the plea, scheduled sentencing for April 11.

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