A Hillside man was sentenced Friday to three years in prison for causing a traffic accident that left a motorcyclist dead in Addison.
Michael A. Kainz, 22, of the 300 block of Buckthorn Lane, pleaded guilty several months ago to driving under the influence of marijuana in the Nov. 30, 2010, crash that killed 46-year-old Robert Lash of Itasca.
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In rejecting a defense attorney's request for probation, DuPage County Judge Blanche Hill Fawell said she was bound by state law to hand down the three-year prison sentence, which was the minimum. Kainz was facing the possibility of up to 14 years in prison.
"I think the judge was fair," JoLynn Lash, Robert Lash's widow, told reporters after Friday's hearing.
Moments before hearing the sentence and being taken into custody, Kainz said in court he was sorry about what happened.
"Nothing could be said to make me forgive myself," he said.
Kainz was driving his 1998 Toyota Camry to work about 6:45 a.m. when the crash occurred in Addison. He was turning west onto Michael Lane from northbound Addison Road when his car was struck by Robert Lash's southbound motorcycle.
Lash, who wasn't wearing a helmet, died of traumatic head injuries at Elmhurst Memorial Hospital.
Kainz told police he didn't see the motorcycle. He also admitted to being a daily marijuana user and that he smoked marijuana the night before the crash, authorities said.
While blood and urine tests detected the drug in his system, defense attorneys tried to argue Kainz wasn't impaired. They sought to prove that "extraordinary circumstances" existed to warrant Kainz being sentenced to probation.
But Assistant State's Attorney Mary Cronin said it's "incomprehensible" Kainz didn't see or hear Lash's approaching motorcycle.
"This defendant, for whatever reason, didn't hear or see a very large man on a very large bike," Cronin said, "and the results were devastating."
In a written statement, State's Attorney Robert Berlin stressed it's illegal for someone to drive with any amount of marijuana in their system.
"Cannabis can remain in your system for days after consumption," Berlin said. "If it is proven that the driver of a vehicle had any amount of cannabis in their system and that their driving caused injury or death to another, as we saw in this case, they will face significant amount of time behind bars."