- Associated Press - Thursday, August 14, 2014

MOUNT VERNON, Ill. (AP) - A former Illinois state trooper trying for a fifth time to get his driver’s license back since a deadly 2007 crash has admitted that he caused the wreck that killed two sisters and was distracted moments earlier.

Matt Mitchell, 36, of Carlyle, made the admission to a Secretary of State hearing officer on Wednesday during his sometimes-tearful recounting of the crash in southwestern Illinois.

He said he didn’t realize he was driving 126 mph when his cruiser crossed the Interstate 64 median and slammed into oncoming traffic, killing Collinsville sisters, 18-year-old Kelli Uhl and 13-year-old Jessica Uhl.

He also admitted he had been typing on his dashboard computer and talking to his girlfriend on his cellphone before the crash, though he said both concluded well before the crash.

Mitchell received probation in the case after pleading guilty to reckless homicide. He said Wednesday that he’d pleaded guilty because he didn’t believe he could get a fair trial, not because he believed he was at fault.

A Secretary of State’s office attorney asked Mitchell about eight auto crashes during his 13 years as a licensed driver, three of them while driving a State Police cruiser.

Mitchell apologized to family members of the two sisters, but their mother, Kimberly Schlau, said she doubts his sincerity.

“I think he’s sorry about the end result,” Schlau said. “But I don’t know that he takes responsibility for causing what happened.”

A decision on Mitchell’s request to reinstate his license could come in 90 days.

The Secretary of State’s hearing officer has in the past recommended reinstatement of Mitchell’s license only to have Secretary of State Jesse White reject it.

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