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Guilty verdict in fatal Waukegan crash

Donald Mischke

Donald Mischke

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Updated: February 5, 2013 6:08AM

A Lisle man will be serving a prison sentence for using a vehicle as a battering ram to break into a Target, steal a TV, drivie recklessly through Waukegan and ultimately run a red light that took the life of a single mother.

Lake County Circuit Judge Mark Levitt found Donald Mischke, 56, guilty of first-degree murder, burglary, retail theft, aggravated fleeing and eluding police, and one count of aggravated DUI. Levitt acquitted Mischke of one count of aggravated DUI.

Levitt presided over the bench trial last month and delivered the verdict Thursday. Sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 15. Mischke faces 20 to 60 years in prison for the murder conviction.

Mischke admitted on the stand last month that he crashed his car into the Waukegan Target in the early hours of Dec. 23, 2010, ran in and stole a TV, then drove through Waukegan until he ran a red light and smashed into another vehicle.

The car he hit was driven by Grayslake woman Elisha Clark-Idelburg, 25. She was on her way home from work when Mischke hit her at the intersection of Green Bay Road and Belvidere Street. She did not survive the accident.

Mischke was charged with first-degree murder, not reckless homicide, because he was in the commission of a forcible felony burglary when he hit Clark-Idelburg’s vehicle, prosecutors Mary Stanton and Reginald Mathews contended.

Levitt said he considered a number of factors when reaching his verdict, including the close proximity of the Target to the crash site, the fact that the stolen TV was in Mischke’s car when he hit Clark-Idelburg, and that Mischke was speeding and driving “visibly” through red lights to elude police.

“It’s amazing to me that the events that occurred (were) in less than a 10-minute span,” Levitt said.

It was closer to five minutes from the time that Mischke was running around the Target taking the TV to the time that the accident happened, Levitt said.

He was acquitted of the count of aggravated DUI that charged him with being under the influence of cocaine that rendered him incapable of driving safely. Mischke admitted that he had taken cocaine prior to the commission of the felony, both on the stand and in a recorded interview with police. An emergency room nurse had testified Mischke said he was going need a high amount of pain medication because he was under the influence of cocaine.

However, the state failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that being under the influence of cocaine impaired him to the extent that he was incapable of driving safely, Levitt said.

His $500,000 bond was revoked after the verdict was read and Mischke remains in custody at Lake County Jail.

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