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Article updated: 12/17/2012 7:52 PM

Trial begins for driver accused of murder

By Lee Filas

Lake County prosecutors said in court Monday that a Lisle man should be found guilty of first-degree murder because he drove through a stoplight after a robbery and killed a Grayslake woman two days before Christmas in 2010.

However, defense attorneys for Donald Mischke said while the death of Elisha Clark was tragic, the 56-year-old Lisle man was not in the process of running from police and, therefore, should not be found guilty of her murder.

The murder trial against Mischke began Monday in front of Lake County Judge Mark Levitt.

Mischke was also charged with aggravated driving under the influence of drugs, after it was discovered he had traces of cocaine in his system, Lake County Assistant State's Attorney Reginald Mathews said.

During opening statements Monday, Mathews said Mischke had been ingesting cocaine on Dec. 22, 2010, then after midnight on Dec. 23, went to the Target store at Lewis and Sunset avenues in Waukegan to steal a flat-screen television.

"The defendant had devised a plan of burglary and escape to feed his cocaine habit," Mathews said in court.

After using his car to pry open the front doors of the Target at 2 a.m. Dec. 23 and taking the television, he was spotted by Waukegan police officers and sped away in his car, Mathews said.

He led police on a high-speed chase that was eventually broken off on Green Bay Road, but Mischke was still driving fast when he went through a red light at Belvidere and Green Bay roads and into Clark's car, Mathews said in court. Clark, 25, the mother of an 8-year-old son, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Mischke was originally charged with reckless homicide, aggravated driving under the influence of drugs and aggravated fleeing and eluding, but prosecutors added the first-degree murder charge after presenting the case to a grand jury in 2011.

Mathews said the law allows the murder charge because Mischke was in the act of committing a felony when Clark was killed.

Defense Christopher Lombardo of Waukegan said the high-speed chase had broken off prior to the crash, and therefore Mischke was no longer in the act of committing a felony.

In addition, he said reports that will be presented in court will not show how much cocaine Mischke had in his system prior to the crash, reducing the aggravated driving under the influence of drugs count.

"This loss of life was indeed a terrible tragedy," Lombardo said in court.

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