New DUI charges filed in fatal Lisle crash

A Lisle man accused in a fatal crash during the July Fourth weekend has been indicted on additional charges, authorities said Friday.

James D. Kisla, 51, now faces charges of driving under the influence of painkillers, in addition to alcohol.

A DuPage County indictment returned Thursday said Kisla’s urine tested positive for hydrocodone and dihydrocodeine after his vehicle struck 69-year-old Donna Early of Naperville, who died hours later at a hospital.

The July 3 crash happened about 10:15 p.m. near the intersection of Yackley Avenue and Ohio Street in Lisle. Early’s husband Bill has said the couple were walking home to the Steeple Run subdivision after watching Lisle’s Eyes to the Skies festival fireworks display from nearby Community Park.

Early was struck as the couple crossed Yackley Avenue during what appeared to be a break in traffic, her husband said. Kisla, of the 600 block of Hitchcock Avenue in Lisle, was arrested at the scene.

In an interview Friday, veteran defense attorney Don Ramsell, who represents Kisla, predicted authorities would have a difficult time proving drugs or alcohol affected his client’s driving.

He questioned test results showing Kisla had a 0.089 blood alcohol content — a fraction over the legal threshold — following the crash, and noted his client hadn’t taken a painkiller that day.

“Not only is it (the alcohol level) low, but there’s serious questions about the state police laboratory,” which reported the results, Ramsell said. “There’s no way they’re going to find Mr. Kisla guilty over 9/1000ths of a gram of alcohol. That’s the difference between guilty and not guilty. Their lab isn’t that good and the people of Illinois aren’t that stupid.”

Ramsell cited a recent Illinois Supreme Court ruling that allows for upgraded charges when motorists have trace amounts of illegal drugs in their systems, regardless of whether evidence suggests it affected their driving. But he noted his client had a legally obtained prescription for Vicodin, which he said resulted in him testing positive for the chemical compounds listed in the indictment.

“It had nothing to do with the accident. Now they’re going to try to railroad this guy and put him in jail for it,” Ramsell said.

“There are many, many supporters for Mr. Kisla, and there are several witnesses to the events in question that the police refused to take statements from,” he added. Kisla, who is free on $30,000 bond, initially was charged with DUI and aggravated DUI. The indictment added charges of aggravated driving under the influence of drugs and aggravated driving under the combined influence of drugs and alcohol.

Ramsell said his client will plead not guilty at arraignment Monday in front of Judge George Bakalis. If convicted of the most serious charge, Kisla could be sentenced to up to 14 years in prison, prosecutors said.

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