A Naperville man accused of driving under the influence of drugs when he fatally struck a high school student in Downers Grove has been named in an 11-count felony indictment, DuPage County prosecutors said Friday at the man's arraignment.
A grand jury this week approved nine counts of aggravated DUI causing death and the two counts of reckless homicide against Joseph Kucharski, Assistant State's Attorney Kristin Johnston said in court.
He formally entered a not guilty plea before Judge Liam Brennan. His attorney, Jay Fuller, waived a formal reading of the charges. The prosecutor asked the judge to admonish Kucharski that he could be tried in absentia if he posted bond and then fled the area.
Kucharski, 51, is charged in the death of Elizabeth Dunlap. The 17-year-old was struck by Kucharski as she crossed the street in front of Downers Grove North High School on Feb. 19, authorities said. She died three days later.
According to authorities, Kucharski had been using crack cocaine the previous four days before the accident and may have fallen asleep in the moments before he drove into an oncoming lane and ran a red light before hitting Dunlap.
The aggravated DUI charge, the most serious count Kucharski faces, carries a maximum prison sentence of 14 years.
Kucharski remains in the county jail where he is being held in lieu of $750,000 bail. Last week, his lawyer unsuccessfully tried to have Kucharski released into a substance-abuse program by offering rental property Kucharski owns as bond, but the property did not have enough value to satisfy bond requirements imposed by the judge.
Brennan ordered Kucharski back to court April 29 for a status hearing.