DECATUR — A jury will meet today to decide whether Myles McGonigle drove recklessly when he struck a pedestrian in Decatur and left him with serious injuries.

The evidence stage of McGonigle’s trial lasted all day Monday in Macon County Circuit Court, where he had pleaded not guilty to a charge of aggravated reckless driving causing great bodily harm. The jury will begin deliberations today.

On Monday, jurors were told McGonigle, 51, a cosmetology instructor from Lovington, was working evenings and had been driving to get dinner when his van hit pedestrian Anthony Johnson as he crossed U.S. 36 at East Prairie Avenue on the city's east side the evening of Nov. 17, 2015.

Johnson, 49, suffered a fractured skull and pelvis among other major injuries. He told jurors he’d been in a coma for a week and had needed extensive facial reconstruction surgery to rebuild his skull using metal plates. Multiple other surgeries had been required to repair additional injuries to his body.

Macon County Assistant State’s Attorney Regan Radtke produced witnesses who both said McGonigle had been driving too fast and driving badly, weaving in and out of traffic.

The prosecution noted that hospital tests showed Johnson had traces of cocaine and cannabis in his system. He said he had used the drugs the weekend before the accident, which happened on a Tuesday, and he was sober at the time he was hit.

The defense, led by attorneys Todd Ringel and Douglas B. Johnson, made much of an Illinois State Police expert who was going to present evidence for the prosecution but in the end was not called. He had reported that for drug use to show up it would have to be have been used up to 36 hours prior to any test, a narrower window than Johnson admitted to.

More prosecution problems came when Decatur police patrol officer Karl Macomb, who had investigated the accident, didn't recognize McGonigle, sitting at the defense table, or pronounce his name correctly. 

The prosecution did introduce Macon County Jail booking records to identify McGonigle from his arrest at the time, and a motion by the defense for a directed verdict for acquittal based on the non-identification was rejected by Judge Jeffrey Geisler.

Testifying in his defense, McGonigle denied he was driving recklessly and said he had a green light when he headed into the intersection doing about 35 mph.

“It’s not the best lit place in the world, and he was just there,” he said of Johnson, who he claimed stepped right out in front of him as he tried to swerve the van clear but couldn’t avoid the collision.

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Staff Writer

Courts and public safety reporter for the Herald & Review.