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Ex-trooper convicted in deaths seeks return of license

BELLEVILLE – A former Illinois State Police trooper whose 2007 high-speed crash killed two sisters has filed for reinstatement of his driver's license – a move opposed by prosecutors, who argue "he chose to drive like a cowboy instead of a trooper."

Matt Mitchell, 34, was driving more than 120 mph and using his cellphone on Interstate 64 in southwestern Illinois the day after Thanksgiving when his cruiser crossed the median and slammed into an oncoming car occupied by Jessica Uhl, 18, and Kelli Uhl, 13. The sisters from Collinsville died, and a couple in another car – Kelly and Christine Marler of Fayetteville – were injured.

Mitchell, who now lives in Killeen, Texas, pleaded guilty to reckless homicide charges and was sentenced to 30 months of probation. He has applied for reinstatement of the driving privileges the state revoked in May 2010.

Under Illinois law, Mitchell couldn't apply for reinstatement for two years, the Belleville News-Democrat (http://bit.ly/NVQE1X) reported Thursday.

An administrative officer in Springfield will decide Mitchell's request without a hearing.

Jim Piper and Deborah Phillips, Mitchell's St. Clair County prosecutors, have sent a letter to Illinois' secretary of state opposing the reinstatement of Mitchell's driving privileges. The prosecutors also included a transcript of his guilty plea for the hearing officer to consider.

"Because he chose to drive like a cowboy instead of a trooper, [the dead girls' parents] Kim Schlau and Brian Uhl visit their daughters in a cemetery," Piper and Phillips wrote to Secretary of State Administrative Assistant Markita Rohlfs. "Because of his outrageous irresponsibility, Christine and Kelly Marler will forever be physically and emotionally scarred."

Kim Schlau believes Mitchell doesn't deserve to get his driver's license back.

"When Jessica received her license, I told her that driving was a privilege, not a right, and was earned by obeying the rules of the road, as well as showing responsibility and good judgment," Schlau said. "Mr. Mitchell has not demonstrated that he deserves this privilege by his previous actions.

"We are afraid that he will continue to show poor judgment behind the wheel of his personal vehicle which could result in future injuries or deaths."

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Information from: Belleville News-Democrat, http://www.bnd.com

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