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3 years in prison for Hillside man who got high, caused fatal crash

Updated: March 30, 2013 6:21PM

A Hillside man who admitted smoking marijuana the night before he triggered a fatal motorcycle crash has been sentenced to three years in prison.

Michael Kainz, 22, had faced a maximum 14-year term.

Kainz, who was taken into custoday after being sentenced Friday, probably will serve about half his sentence.

His lawyer, Michael Monico, said Kainz wasn’t impaired on Nov. 30, 2010, when he turned his car left in front of motorcyclist Robert “R.J.” Lash at an Addison intersection. Lash, 46, suffered fatal head injuries when he plowed into the side of Kainz’s car.

DuPage County Judge Blanche Fawell imposed the minimum prison term, saying Kainz had pleaded guilty to felony DUI and was remorseful.

“It’s tragic for two complete groups of families,” Fawell said.

“I think the judge was fair,” said Lash’s widow, JoLynn.

Kainz — who told authorities he never saw the oncoming motorcyclist — said in court: “Nothing can be said to make me forgive myself.”

Monico had argued “extraordinary circumstances” surrounding the crash justified placing Kainz on probation. Kainz had smoked marijuana about 12 hours before the crash and wasn’t impaired while driving, Monico contended. Urine samples give by Kainz after the crash found only metabolized traces of the drug, he said.

“He’s a good kid who made a mistake,” Monico said, contending Lash was at least partly responsible for the deadly crash.

An expert hired by Kainz said Lash was speeding, leaving Kainz too little time to complete his turn.

Prosecutor Mary Cronin scoffed at claims that Lash was at fault, saying Kainz was solely responsible.

“The defendant, for whatever reason, didn’t hear or see a very large man on a very large bike,” Cronin said. “The results were devastating.”

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