Justin Slade


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MONTICELLO — An Urbana man accused of causing the death of a Weldon man while allegedly driving drunk last year near Lodge is now in the Piatt County Jail awaiting trial.

Justin D. Slade, 35, whose last known address was in the 100 block of North Lynn Street, was arraigned Thursday by Piatt County Judge Dana Rhoades on charges of aggravated driving under the influence of alcohol.

The felony charge alleges that Slade’s blood-alcohol level was greater than 0.08 on Dec. 30 when his Jeep crashed head-on into the sport utility vehicle that Tristan Brannin was driving.

Mr. Brannin, 23, of Weldon, died about 11:40 p.m. that Wednesday at the scene of the crash on Illinois 10 where it meets County Road 2150 North, just east of Lodge.

Illinois State Police determined that Slade’s Jeep crossed the center line, hit Mr. Brannin’s GMC Envoy, then rolled over and caught fire. Mr. Brannin’s vehicle went in the right ditch and also caught fire.

Assistant Piatt County State’s Attorney Victoria Dedman said Slade had been recovering from injuries he received in the crash at a Bloomington rehabilitation center until Tuesday, when he was released to the custody of the Piatt County sheriff. He had been charged with the Class 2 felony earlier this year and a warrant issued for his arrest.

Slade was in a wheelchair Thursday when he appeared before Rhoades, who read the charge to him, and told him that he could be imprisoned from three to 14 years if convicted.

Probation is an option, but only if the judge finds that “extraordinary circumstances” exist to justify it.

Dedman said Slade had two prior misdemeanor convictions from 2010 and 2018.

Rhoades set his bond at $200,000 and continued his case to June 22 to give him time to hire his own attorney.

Several family members and friends of Mr. Brannin were in court Thursday.


Mary Schenk is a reporter covering police, courts and breaking news at The News-Gazette. Her email is mschenk@news-gazette.com, and you can follow her on Twitter (@schenk).

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