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CHARLESTON -- A man drank a half-pint of vodka less than two hours before causing an accident that killed a rural Mattoon woman last month.

That was among the information a judge heard Monday in denying a request to reduce the bond for James W. Miller, who's accused of causing the accident that killed April L. Fisher, who was 38, on Dec. 11.

Evidence presented to Coles County Circuit Judge James Glenn also indicated that Miller's pickup truck was traveling about 90 mph and he made no attempt to slow at the intersection of Illinois Route 316 and Loxa Road, where the accident took place.

Miller, 56, of Terre Haute, Ind., is jailed facing a charge of aggravated driving under the influence of alcohol in connection with the accident. He's accused of running the stop sign on Loxa Road and colliding with the driver's side of Fisher's vehicle, killing her at the scene.

With Glenn's ruling Monday, Miller's bond remains at a level requiring $25,000 to be posted for release from jail. His attorney also entered a not guilty plea to the charge on his behalf during Monday's court appearance.

Route 316-Loxa Road DUI suspect now in custody

In opposing the bond reduction motion, Assistant State's Attorney Rob Scales had Deputy Cody Lee of the Coles County Sheriff's Office testify about the investigation.

Lee said he interviewed Miller at Carle Foundation Hospital, Urbana, where he was taken after the accident. He said a test at the hospital showed a blood alcohol content for Miller of 0.147 percent, nearly twice the legal limit.

Miller said he drank the vodka before leaving Terre Haute that morning and added that he hadn't eaten, Lee said. Miller also said he was lost and using his cellphone's map application at the time of accident, which he didn't recall taking place, the deputy said.

Also, Lee related, Miller said he traveled to Charleston for an appointment to have his truck serviced at the Pilson automotive dealership. Police confirmed that Miller did have an appointment at the dealership but it was actually on Dec. 12, the day after the accident.

In support of the motion, defense attorney Robert Morris had Miller testify about his current employment being limited to a one-person mowing service. He said if he's released from jail he'd try to expand the business so he'd have more income.

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Also, Ronald Mullen, Miller's brother-in-law and a former administrator for the Indiana prison system, testified about Miller's character and said he'd benefit from treatment and other opportunities if released.

Morris asked that Miller's bond be reduced to a $1,500 level, arguing that the higher bond was excessive and "a punishment of its own."

Miller is willing to enter substance abuse treatment if released from jail and would follow current alcohol monitoring requirements of his bond, Morris said.

Scales objected to any bond reduction, saying the evidence indicated that Miller has a drinking problem. His living in another state with no ties to the local community also makes him a flight risk, Scales also said.

Man cited for DUI, using cellphone after Route 316-Loxa Road accident

Glenn agreed and said the current bond amount was needed to "ensure the safety of the community."

The judge and attorneys agreed to delay scheduling a trial pending a hearing to review the status of the case, which Glenn scheduled for Jan. 31.

The aggravated DUI charge against Miller is a felony offense that can result in a prison sentence of three to 14 years when there's a conviction.

For a DUI charge when a fatality takes place, state law calls for a "presumption" of prison time over probation with a conviction.

Citations he was also issued included improper use of an electronic communications device. He was also cited for disobeying a stop sign and failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident.

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Contact Dave Fopay at (217) 238-6858. Follow him on Twitter: @FopayDave

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Reporter

Dave Fopay is a reporter for the JG-TC who covers Coles County, the local court system, Charleston schools and more.

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