Man sentenced to 3 years for obstructing justice in crash that hurt farmer
URBANA — A Melvin man who lied about driving a truck that crashed into a Fisher man last year, seriously injuring him, has been sentenced to three years in prison and ordered to make restitution to the man.
A Champaign County jury in July acquitted Kevin Redeker, 44, of aggravated driving under the influence for causing the July 14, 2013, crash that seriously injured Harris Drennan, 73. However, jurors convicted him of obstructing justice for telling Champaign County sheriff's deputies that his girlfriend had been driving when, in fact, Redeker had been.
The collision happened at 12:02 a.m. on County Road 600 E, about a mile north of Fisher. Redeker was driving the pickup north and was behind Drennan, who was on a 1951 tractor. Both men had just left the Fisher Fair.
Testimony was that the pickup hit the tractor behind the driver's seat, throwing Drennan backward from the tractor into the windshield and roof of the pickup, then into the bed of the truck. The pickup rolled on its roof and Drennan was found underneath the truck bed with beer cans strewn around him.
When the first police officer arrived, Tiffany Latham, 29, was outside of the truck and said she had been driving. She was treated at Carle but Redeker refused treatment.
It was a full day later that Redeker recalled that he was the one who had been driving and admitted that to a sheriff's deputy. He was later charged with aggravated DUI and obstructing justice. Latham was also charged with obstructing justice and convicted of that. She's serving a sentence of conditional discharge.
Drennan told the judge he is unable to farm or do other work he used to because to his injuries, which included a torn rotator cuff, a dislocated shoulder, a concussion, and multiple cuts to his head, hands and legs. He said some of his wounds required repeated painful cleanings and skin grafts. He was hospitalized four weeks and required nursing home care for several more weeks after that.
Assistant State's Attorney Elizabeth Dornik argued for the maximum three-year prison term.
"We don't like it when people lie to police to hinder their investigations," especially in DUI cases when time is critical to determining the level of intoxication. "He lied, knowing what had happened."
Over the objection of Redeker's attorney, Jeffrey Clapper of Danville, Dornik also asked that Redeker be ordered to pay $26,150 in restitution to Drennan for expenses associated with his medical treatment.
Clapper had argued that Redeker's obstructing justice was not the cause of Drennan's injuries and that since he was acquitted of the DUI, it would be "unnecessary and improper" for Judge Richard Klaus to "piggyback" the restitution on to his sentence.
"All his injuries flow from the motor vehicle accident and my client was found not guilty of that by a jury of his peers," Clapper argued.
Clapper argued that Redeker is a reliable employee, well-liked by his co-workers and even his former in-laws. He urged the judge to sentence him to probation.
Redeker declined to say anything.
Klaus then issued a terse ruling.
"Mr. Redeker at the scene lied to his girlfriend, then proceeded to lie to the sheriff's deputies. In my opinion, he then, during trial, lied to the jury and to the court. The court will not reinforce that behavior nor will the court reward that behavior with a community-based sentence," said Klaus.