Melvin man acquitted of DUI, convicted of lying about crash

Melvin man acquitted of DUI, convicted of lying about crash

URBANA — A Champaign County jury Thursday returned a split verdict against a Melvin man who was charged with aggravated driving under the influence for seriously injuring a tractor driver then lying about being the driver.

The jury deliberated about four hours before acquitting Kevin Redeker, 44, of aggravated driving under the influence but convicting him of obstructing justice.

Judge Richard Klaus revoked Redeker's bond and ordered him held in jail until his Sept. 4 sentencing. He faces penalties ranging from probation to one to three years in prison.

The charges were filed against Redeker in connection with an early morning collision July 14, 2013, on County Road 600 E about a mile north of Fisher. Redeker was driving his pickup truck north, following Harris Drennan, 73, of rural Fisher, who was on a 1951 tractor. Both men had just left the Fisher Fair.

Drennan testified that he recalled headlights behind him and that was the last thing he remembered before his tractor went in the ditch.

Testimony from Champaign County sheriff's Deputy Tracy Wagner, an accident reconstruction specialist, was that the pickup truck hit the tractor behind the driver's seat. Drennan was thrown from the tractor into the windshield and roof of the pickup, landing in its bed. The pickup then rolled on its roof and Drennan was found underneath the truck bed amid a pile of beer cans.

He sustained two broken shoulders, four broken ribs, multiple cuts, bruises and scrapes, and required a skin graft on his leg. He was hospitalized for four weeks and required several more weeks of rehabilitation at a nursing home before he could go home.

Redeker and his girlfriend, Tiffany Latham, 29, found themselves hanging upside down in the damaged truck. She was out of the truck when the first police officer arrived. Latham and Redeker told police that she was driving.

Latham was taken to Carle, where she was treated and released. Redeker refused medical treatment.

Two sheriff's deputies testified Redeker appeared under the influence while the emergency medical technician who looked at him said he did not. Given his contention that Latham was the driver, no field sobriety or breath tests were administered to Redeker.

Latham was initially charged with aggravated driving under the influence until Redeker came forward and admitted that he had been driving. A charge of obstructing justice was lodged against her late last year. She was found guilty of that in a bench trial before Klaus in March and was sentenced to a year of conditional discharge. The DUI against her was dismissed.

Testifying against the advice of his attorney, Jeffrey Clapper of Danville, Redeker said he had consumed three or four beers during the demolition derby, which ended around 11 p.m. on July 13. The accident happened at 12:02 a.m. on July 14.

He said he did not have a good memory of what happened immediately after the crash and admitted he told a deputy that Latham had been driving.

Later, when he went to the crash scene, he said he began to recall what happened.

"By seeing a lot of things, it helped me recover," he said, adding he realized then that he had been driving the pickup. He related that information to a Champaign County sheriff's deputy, who, on July 15, took down the information and took pictures of his shoulder and Latham's shoulder, which were bruised from seat belt contact.

Redeker said he did not feel like he was under the influence of alcohol prior to the crash and added that alcohol had nothing to do with why he said his girlfriend had been driving.

On cross-examination by Assistant State's Attorney Elizabeth Dornik, Redeker said he did not know who put empty beer cans in his cooler as he watched the demolition derby. Wagner earlier testified there were 25 empty beer cans and three unopened beer cans in and around the bed of the wrecked pickup.

"My recall is that I hit his tractor. It just seemed to show up out of nowhere," Redeker said.

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