Suspect found unfit to stand trial for I-57 accident

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

A man accused of reckless homicide in the June 2004 deaths of five people and two unborn children on Interstate 57 is unfit to stand trial, Union County, Ill., assistant state's attorney Brian Trambley announced Monday.

A hearing into whether Jason King could be ready within a year was underway Monday and should be finished today, Trambley said in a prepared statement.

King was traveling north in the southbound lanes of I-57 when the accident occurred, Trambley said.

Judge Ronald Eckiss of Williamson County is hearing testimony from King's medical doctor, his psychologist and a psychologist hired by the state.

Trambley had originally wanted a jury to decide if King was fit to stand trial, but discussions before the hearing determined that medical experts agree he is currently unable to assist in his defense. The plan for a jury was dropped and the case will be decided by Eckiss.

King was able to assist in his divorce case, Trambley noted, but now contends through attorney John Womick that he is unable to take part in a criminal trial. The problems King claims stem from earlier injuries, not injuries sustained in the 2004 crash, Trambley said.

During the divorce case, Trambley said, King made statements that he understood his rights, the nature of the proceedings and made specific requests of the judge.

If Eckiss rules against prosecutors, Trambley said in the prepared statement, it is possible that he may never be tried for the crash.

Trambley could not be reached for comment in person on his prepared statement.

rkeller@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 126

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