Not guilty plea entered for suspended UK student on DUI charge following deadly collision

Published: Sep. 19, 2018 at 1:22 PM EDT
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The attorney for the suspended University of Kentucky student accused of driving under the influence during a deadly collision has waived a formal arraignment in his client's case.

Jacob Heil, 18, was not present at court Wednesday for his arraignment, as he is currently charged with a misdemeanor following a Saturday collision on Cooper Drive that took the life of 4-year-old Marco Lee Shemwell. Shemwell died Monday at Kentucky Children’s Hospital.

Heil's attorney, Chris Spedding, indicated they are still awaiting blood test results in the case. His client did not have to be present because Heil is only facing a misdemeanor charge. Police say Heil had a blood-alcohol content of .051, which is below the legal limit for adults, but it is above the legal limit for people under 21.

A police report says the suspended freshman, who recently pledged to the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity, had left a football tailgate before the collision, and Heil admitted to consuming two beers. The fraternity is suspended, and a report from the University of Kentucky Office of Student Conduct says alcohol was served to minors in an unregistered tailgate.

Spedding declined to comment on the case to WKYT, but our news partners at the Lexington Herald-Leader recorded a statement from Spedding, who defended his client while also stating the family is "crushed" by the child's death.

"The misinformation that is being disseminated in the community is doing a disservice to most importantly the victim's family, my client and the community in general," Spedding said, "What I would do is ask the public to reserve judgment until all the facts come in."

Spedding also said the portable breath test used to get Heil's blood alcohol level of .051 is inadmissible in court.

The collision happened while the University of Kentucky football team was playing a game against Murray State. UK has announced it would make pedestrian safety upgrades following the 4-year-old's death.