The former Illinois State Trooper who struck and killed two Collinsville sisters appeared before a secretary of state hearing officer Thursday afternoon in Mount Vernon, making his argument for why his driver's license should be reinstated.
The state denied Matt Mitchell's request to have his license reinstated last year. It was revoked after his conviction on reckless homicide and reckless driving charges in connection with the high-speed crash that killed Kelli and Jessica Uhl and injured Fayetteville couple Kelly and Christine Marler in November 2007.
After the denial, secretary of state spokesman Dave Druker said Mitchell requested a hearing before an administrative hearing officer.
"This is great. Maybe next we can let Charles Manson have a driver's license. Or let Mark David Chapman and John Wayne Gacy out on good behavior," said Thomas Q. Keefe, who represented the Uhl's parents in a civil suit. "None of that is any less outrageous than giving back a license to this man who has already demonstrated that he will turn it into a deadly weapon."
Mitchell can present his case at the hearing, including any additional information he may want the hearing officer to consider.
The hearing officer will issue a decision in 30 to 90 days, Druker said.
Opposition to the reinstatement also will be presented by a lawyer for the secretary of state's office, Druker said.
If he fails in this round, Mitchell can apply for reinstatement every 90 days.
Mitchell was driving 126 mph on the day after Thanksgiving on Interstate 64 near O'Fallon when his police cruiser left the roadway and struck a Mazda driven by Jessica Uhl, 18. Uhl and her sister, Kelli, 13, who was a passenger in the vehicle, died. Kelly Marler and his then 9-month pregnant wife, Christine, of Fayetteville, also were injured in the crash.
Prosecutors said Mitchell was sending and receiving emails and talking to his girlfriend on the cell phone in the moments before the crash. Mitchell said he was heading to a traffic accident in Lebanon, but help already was at the scene of that crash, prosecutors said.
Mitchell pleaded guilty to the reckless homicide and reckless driving charges and was sentenced to probation. He lost his job with the State Police.
Kimberly Schlau and Brian Uhl, Kelli and Jessica Uhl's parents, and their respective children received $8 million in damages.
"Maybe this would be different if he accepted responsibility for the accident and apologized to the family," Keefe said. "But he failed to do that."
Mitchell maintained that he was cut off by a white car, causing him to leave the roadway and lose control of his squad car.
Mitchell also was injured in the accident and filed a workers' compensation case, which was denied.
Mitchell lived in Carlyle at the time of the crash, but later moved to Killeen, Texas. His is the single parent of a 9-year-old daughter.
Contact reporter Beth Hundsdorfer at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2570.