MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Jonathan Markle turned himself in to authorities to face possible legal punishment. But according to Markle’s attorney, Joe Friedberg, the felony charge of criminal vehicular homicide pales in comparison to the regrets and guilt he’s already feeling.
“I mean overwhelming guilt,” Friedberg said. “He’s driving the car and his daughter passed away. He made three attempts to go underwater and get her out of that car.”
On Jan. 18, the Minnetrista man decided to take a shortcut across Lake Minnetonka after he left a popular restaurant and bar with his wife and two girls. While driving through a channel connecting Priest’s Bay and Hallsted’s Bay, Markle’s vehicle plunged through thin ice.
The husband, wife and eldest daughter were able to escape the car, but 8-month-old Tabitha was belted into a car seat. She was eventually pulled from the submerged car by rescuers fifteen minutes later. She died three days later from her injuries.
Hennepin County prosecutors decided to charge Markle with the felony offense after it was determined he was legally drunk when he drove the Nissan Rogue through the ice.
County Attorney Mike Freeman said Markle’s blood alcohol level was 0.13 two hours after the accident. The state’s legal limit is 0.08.
According to his criminal complaint, Markle told investigators he’d consumed just two beers at Lord Fletcher’s before driving onto the ice. Prosecutors doubt that claim, and have called his actions to get behind the wheel “reckless.”
After his client’s initial appearance on Friday, Friedberg said that while facts in the case remain in dispute, Markle’s inner guilt and remorse is clear.
“It’s just something that I don’t think any of us can comprehend. I mean it’s bad enough a person loses a child. I don’t know how to compound that by being the one at fault for losing a child. It’s incomprehensible to most of us,” he said.
Bail was set at $10,000 with the conditions that Markle not use alcohol or illegal drugs, remain law abiding and make all his court appearances.
The next court date is set for March 4 when Markle will have an omnibus hearing.