EDWARDSVILLE — A Godfrey man could get up to 14 years in prison after he pleaded guilty Wednesday to a charge that accuses him of killing Marlin F. Bushnell, of Godfrey, by driving through Bushnell’s home in the 200 block of Saturn Drive on Jan. 13, 2013.
Jacob L. Fickle, 26, of the 200 block of Mercury Drive, pleaded guilty to one count of driving under the influence of alcohol, causing death in exchange for a prosecution agreement to drop four other counts related to the same incident and another 10 charges of felony theft, as well as a heroin possession count.
Assistant State’s Attorney John Fischer told the court Wednesday that, had there been a trial, the evidence would have shown that Fickle had a blood-alcohol level of nearly 0.12 percent, about 50 percent more than the level required for a presumption of intoxication.
The original indictment claims that he was driving under the influence of cocaine, marijuana and alprazolam. Those counts were dropped as part of the plea agreement.
A Madison County Sheriff’s Office news release last September said lab results showed his blood to contain marijuana, cocaine, alprazolam and in excess of 0.08 percent alcohol.
The charge accuses him in the death of Bushnell, 73, who was at home Sunday night when Fickle’s out-of-control GMC Yukon plowed through the front of Bushnell’s home. Circuit Judge James Hackett said sentencing would be in about six weeks after a pre-sentencing investigation. Bushnell died at the scene, pinned under the wreckage, authorities said.
Fickle allegedly took keys from a family member at his home in the 200 block of Mercury Drive and fled the residence in a sport utility vehicle, managing to get only a few blocks before losing control on a curve and hitting the Bushnell home at high speed. Much of the home was demolished.
Fickle was accused of fleeing the scene of the crash on foot. Deputies from the Madison County Sheriff’s Department found him in the parking lot of the Beer Barrel Pub, 7205 Montclair Ave., in Godfrey, and took him into custody about 11:24 p.m.
Fickle also was charged with two misdemeanor counts of domestic battery in connection with the original disturbance. He reportedly battered two separate family members during the disturbance and forcibly took the keys to the SUV from one of the victims. Fickle also was issued traffic citations for driving while license revoked and failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident.
Fickle has been in the Madison County Jail, held in lieu of $150,000 bail. He will remain in jail until the sentencing hearing.
Circuit Judge James Hackett said sentencing would be in about six weeks after a pre-sentencing investigation.
At the time of the crash, Fickle was facing trial for 10 felony thefts of air conditioners from residences and businesses in Godfrey between March and June of 2012. In that case, he was charged with one count of unlawful possession of a controlled substance, heroin.
Authorities said he admitted to stealing the air conditioners to feed a heroin habit.
In addition to the sentencing in the criminal case, Fickle is also facing a law suit filed on behalf of the Marlin Bushnell’s estate. The Beer Barrel Pub was also named in the suit because it allegedly served Fickle alcohol.
Fickle has a record of misdemeanors dating to 2005 when he was convicted of giving or selling liquor to a minor.
He also has misdemeanor convictions for possession of liquor by a minor, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, and two counts of driving under the influence of alcohol. There was also a pending charge of driving on a revoked license when the crash occurred.
Sanford J. Schmidt can be reached at 618-208-6449 or Twitter @SanfordSan.