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updated: 7/6/2011 5:01 PM

Ex-South Elgin man pleads guilty in Plato Twp. DUI crash

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  • Eric Barth

    Eric Barth


A 21-year-old former South Elgin resident pleaded guilty Wednesday to driving drunk and causing a crash last December that severely injured a Hampshire couple.

Eric M. Barth, now of Franklin, Ohio, pleaded guilty to felony aggravated DUI causing great bodily harm and aggravated DUI while driving without a license.

Barth entered a cold plea Wednesday, which is when a defendant does not agree to a sentence before admitting guilt.

He will be sentenced by Judge Edward Schreiber on Aug. 17 and could receive anywhere from 30 months of probation to 12 months in prison.

If Barth is sentenced to prison time, he must serve 85 percent of it, according to state law.

Assistant State's Attorney Steven Sims said Barth was behind the wheel of a Chevy pickup truck that crossed the centerline on Plank Road near Brier Hill Road in Plato Township the night of Dec. 29.

The pickup struck a GMC Denali head-on, injuring Robert, 64, and Heike Wehrle, 70, of Hampshire.

Robert Wehrle sustained a broken vertebra and broken right leg while his wife had internal injuries including a torn diaphragm and collapsed lungs and a broken left shoulder.

Sims said Barth briefly ran from the scene but returned to the scene where authorities found two empty beer cans in his vehicle along with two unopened ones.

"Several beer cans were located on the driver's side floorboard of the defendant's vehicle," Sims said.

The Illinois State Police Crime Lab later determined that Barth's blood alcohol concentration was 0.207 percent, about 2 times the legal threshold.

Barth has had several run-ins with the law, including a pending DUI in Ohio, a criminal damage to property charge in Kane County from 2008 and a weapons charge in DuPage County.