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Prosecutors seek to block possible Schmidt defense

Published: Tuesday, July 23, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, July 23, 2013 4:01 p.m. CDT

SYCAMORE – Evidence suggests a 49-year-old Sycamore woman suffered a seizure or blackout in the crash that killed two 21-year-olds, but she might not be able to use that as a criminal defense.

Patricia Schmidt, of the 28500 block of Brickville Road, is scheduled to stand trial Sept. 30 on charges of aggravated driving under the influence, reckless homicide and reckless driving. She was charged in connection with the Feb. 21, 2011, crash that killed Timothy T. Getzelman of Sycamore and Alexis Y. Weber of Maple Park, who had been a couple for four years.

Getzelman and Weber were traveling east on Peace Road in Sycamore about 5:30 p.m. when Schmidt, traveling south on North Main Street, struck Getzelman’s vehicle on the driver’s side. Witnesses said Getzelman had the right of way.

Authorities found multiple prescription drugs in Schmidt’s blood, including the anti-anxiety drug lorazepam, phenobarbital, mephobarbital and three others.

Prosecutors previously said they plan to argue at trial that Schmidt’s medications were never at an appropriate level for driving. After she had a seizure in 2007, a doctor told her not to drive until her medications were under control, Schmidt’s attorney has said.

If convicted of the most serious charge of aggravated driving under the influence, Schmidt could be sentenced to between six and 28 years in prison.

On Monday, prosecutors filed a written request asking Presiding Judge Robbin Stuckert to prevent Schmidt’s attorneys from using the blackout or seizure as a defense. Prosecutors argue that neither are legal defenses for the charges Schmidt faces, and other courts have ruled that people are guilty of reckless homicide even if they have a sleeping disorder or fainting incident.

Defense attorney Gregg Smith and prosecutors are expected to present their arguments on that request at Schmidt’s next court date, which is Aug. 20.

Also on Monday, Stuckert denied Schmidt’s request to toss out statements she made to police about her medical conditions or physical health. Smith had argued that police continued to question Schmidt on two occasions when she mentioned an attorney, but Stuckert ruled Monday that Sycamore police had followed the appropriate procedures.

Attorneys agreed Monday that, during the trial, prosecutors would not show autopsy photographs of Getzelman or Weber and photographs of the numerous prescription bottles found in Schmidt’s home. Prosecutors also agreed not to mention the Weber’s and Getzelman’s family members’ job or positions in the community, beyond the basic biographical information typically mentioned at the beginning of criminal trials involving death.

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