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Oak Forest Man Found Guilty of Aggravated DUI Four Years after Fatal Crash

Patrick Campanelli, defense attorney for Michael Beardsley, 39, said he plans to appeal the verdict and ask for a new trial.

Oak Forest Man Found Guilty of Aggravated DUI Four Years after Fatal Crash

A 39-year-old Oak Forest man is awaiting sentencing in the Cook County Department of Corrections, convicted in late September of aggravated driving with a blood alcohol concentration level of .08 or more in connection to the 2008 car crash that killed a 24-year-old Frankfort man.

Michael Beardsley was reportedly driving the car during the single-vehicle accident, where Steven Wasily was killed on impact. A jury handed down a guilty verdict on Sept. 20 in Judge Luciano Panici's courtroom in Markham.

Sentencing and post-trial motions for Beardsley's case have been set for Oct. 15.

However, Beardsley's attorney, Patrick M. Campanelli wants to get the conviction tossed out on appeal and have a new trial, Campanelli told Patch in a phone interview Tuesday, Oct. 2.

Campanelli said he is appealing because there were many issues that contested whether Beardsley's blood test showing his blood alcohol levels were accurate.

"It is my position that my client was not responsible for the accident," he said.

The attorney is also questioning the interpretation of a new law—which he says will send innocent people to jail. The statute says there has to be a "proximate cause" between the accused's driving and the cause of death, Campanelli explained. In other words, the state has to prove that the driving of the defendant, if he has a BAC of .08 or more, is the primary cause of injury leading to death.

However, Campanelli says the law as it is currently being interpreted "has no requirement at all except that the accused with the BAC above .08 is behind the wheel."

He gave this example: "Say, you're sitting in a car at a red light with a blood alcohol level of .08 and a car runs a red light, hits the back of you and there's a death. You could be charged. That's way the judges here interpret it."

In a later email to Patch, Campanelli further elaborated, "It is apparent that under the new statute and new interpretation that many innocent people will be going to jail because of the desires of organizations that want to see a zero tolerance with drinking and driving." 

Campanelli also objects to hospital medical records being introduced by prosecutors as evidence, but no witness to cross-examine about the accuracy of them. He said a law allowing medical records as evidence in DUI cases is a direct contradiction to another statute that doesn't allow for medical records or police records to be introduced at criminal trials.

"So [the fact that] it is reliable in DUI but not other criminal charges make no sense. It is not allowed in other crimes because without cross-examination the reliability and credibility is always in question," Campanelli said.

Cook County State's Attorney's Office representatives were not immediately available for comment; they typically typically refrain from comment on pending cases.

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