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Driver gets 26-year sentence for death of Grayslake woman

Donald Mischke

Donald Mischke

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Updated: May 8, 2013 2:45AM

Instead of using his money to buy his mother a birthday gift, an 8-year-old boy bought her flowers for her grave with his own money. He was also 8 years old on Dec. 23, 2010, when his mother, Elisha Clark-Idelburg, 25, was killed.

The Grayslake woman was on her way home in the early hours that day so she could give her son an amazing Christmas when Donald Mischke of Lisle ran a red light at the intersection of Green Bay and Belvidere roads in Waukegan.

Mischke was fleeing from a robbery he had just committed at the Waukegan Target, where he stole a TV to pay for drugs, according to testimony from his trial and the victim’s mother.

“Her life might not mean more to you than a $599 TV, but it was priceless to us,” Clark-Idelburg’s mother said.

Mischke, 56, was before Circuit Judge Mark Levitt Friday for sentencing. Waiving his right to have a jury of peers hear his case, he opted for a bench trial instead.

Levitt convicted Mischke of first-degree murder, burglary, retail theft, aggravated fleeing and eluding police and aggravated DUI Jan. 3.

Mischke faced 20 to 60 years in prison for the murder charge. Levitt sentenced him to 26 years in prison.

“Nothing can repair the pain when an innocent life is taken,” Levitt said.

Levitt said he didn’t think Mischke intended to take a life in the early hours of Dec. 23, 2010. Mischke smashed a car into the Waukegan Target, ignored police commands to stop and drove away speeding in excess of 100 mph through Waukegan until he ran a red light, according to testimony from the trial.

“Your single-minded desire to commit a burglary evinced a callous disregard for anyone or anything that got in your way,” Levitt said.

Assistant State’s Attorney Reginald Mathews asked the judge to impose a 35-year prison sentence. Mischke has two prior DUIs, he said.

“Dec. 23 will forever be a time of great loss. One present (Clark-Idelburg’s son) didn’t get to open was changing his mother’s circumstances,” Mathews said.

Defense attorney Chris Lombardo asked for a sentence of 20 to 25 years in prison.

“Mr. Mischke’s intent was not to hurt anybody,” Lombardo said.

Mischke apologized to Clark-Idelburg’s family. Many of her family members were present in court Friday.

“I am a father. I know the worst nightmare of losing a child. I’ve had nightmares about that. I can’t fathom actually experiencing the pain that I’ve caused them,” Mischke said.

Clark-Idelburg’s mother told Mischke that she forgave him when she read her victim impact statement in court.

Before the sentencing hearing started, his hand-written post-trial motion for ineffective counsel was denied.

Mischke blamed Lombardo for his conviction and accused his attorney of instructing him to provide false testimony during the trial and coerced him into asking for a bench trial.

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