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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Gerry Frierdich update: A mixed bag

I have good news and news that some may see as troublesome about my friend Gerry "Chief" Frierdich. I'll start with the good news, but I hope you'll read on about developments in the court case against the driver of the vehicle that struck Gerry's recumbent bike.

Pat Colle, of Jerseyville, Ill., was the winner of the second of two Bacchetta recumbent bicycles that were raffled off to raise money for Gerry's ongoing recovery. Gerry pulled Pat's name from a pool of hundreds of raffle tickets during a Feb. 7 mouse race benefit in Belleville. According to Gerry's CaringBridge site, Pat bought the winning ticket from me back in January during the St. Louis Regional Bicycle Federation's Midwest Bike Expo & Swap Meet in Collinsville.

Congratulations, Pat! Have fun riding your recumbent on the backroads of Jersey County!

As regular readers of this blog know, Gerry was paralyzed from the chest down on Aug. 17, 2007, when his recumbent was struck by a pickup truck on South Green Mount Road in Belleville. Gerry has made a lot of progress since then. The court case involving the person accused of driving the truck has not.

Keith Joseph McCoy, 24, was charged in late 2007 with two counts of Aggravated Driving Under the Influence, a felony charge in Illinois. The case has sat in St. Clair County Circuit Court with little action being taken since then. Hearings, including one that had been scheduled for today, continually have been delayed.

The hearing was rescheduled for 1:30 p.m. March 31 in Courtroom 409 of the St. Clair County Building in Belleville.

The only motion, other than routine motions for discovery information, that has been filed is one by McCoy's attorney, Richard Sturgeon, asking that McCoy's statements to Belleville police be suppressed. The motion contends that when police took a statement from McCoy immediately after the accident, that he was not advised of his constitutional right to remain silent, even though he was not free to leave the scene and that he was a suspect.

The motion also contends police made promises to McCoy to obtain a statement, but the motion does not detail the promises. To date, St. Clair County prosecutors have not filed a written answer to the motion.

Having covered the court system in Madison County back in the 1980s and early 1990s as a reporter and having first-hand experience with the system after the stabbing death of my brother, Wes, in 1996-97, I can say cases get delayed frequently for a variety of reasons.

While I'll continue reporting facts on the court case here, I really can't play the role of an advocate and voice opinions on an issue so close to home. While I avoid editing stories about Gerry as part of my job at the Belleville News-Democrat -- I'm much too close to Gerry and his fundraising efforts to edit the stories -- I still have to handle them as part of my role as a page designer. It's probably for the best that I stick to the facts here.

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Roger 1 comments links to this post 7:11 PM

Hmmm - we'll see how this plays out,Roger. I hope there is justice out there for Gerry. Considering the terrible press the Belleville Police Department has garnered recently, I hope they and the prosecutor's office do their job.
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