STERLING – A suspected coke dealer whose girlfriend was killed April 7 when he ran a stop sign and collided with a pickup, apparently while eluding a police surveillance detail, now is charged with two counts of reckless homicide and four felony drug charges.
Michael L. Mulberry, 39, of Rock Falls, is in Whiteside County Jail on $1 million bond, charged with reckless homicide with a vehicle, which carries 2 to 5 years in prison, and committing a reckless homicide while his license was revoked, which carries 1 to 3 years.
In four other cases, Mulberry is charged with selling cocaine near a park, which carries 6 to 30 years; and two counts of selling 1 to 15 grams of cocaine and one of selling less than a gram of cocaine near a park, each of which carries 4 to 15 years.
All sales were made to an agent of the Sterling police, and all happened on different dates – March 15, 22, 27 and shortly before the crash on April 7, court records show.
The cases were filed Nov. 20 but not made public until Mulberry’s arrest Tuesday in Cook County. He was arraigned Wednesday and has a preliminary hearing Feb. 26.
Mulberry, who investigators say was under surveillance after selling crack cocaine to confidential police agent minutes before the crash, was speeding north on Griswold Avenue shortly after 3 p.m. in a Nissan Maxima, blew the stop sign at West LeFevre Road and was struck by an eastbound Silverado driven by Michael J. Lee, 59, of Prophetstown.
He and his passenger, Dawn Nicole Trosclair, 34, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, were taken to OSF St. Anthony Medical Center in Rockford, where she died around 4:30 a.m. the next day of blunt force trauma to the abdomen.
Mulberry was hospitalized with undisclosed injuries until May 9. Lee was treated at CGH Medical Center and released.
Mulberry was cited that day for the traffic offenses of driving on a suspended license and failure to obey a stop sign, but those charges were dismissed pending the outcome of the state police investigation that lead to the more serious felony charges.
According to ISP reports from witnesses and officers involved:
Black Hawk Area Task Force members were assisting Sterling Police with an ongoing investigation of Mulberry. ISP, Rock Falls and Whiteside County officers also were assisting.
Mulberry sold cocaine to the confidential source around 2:40 p.m. About 5 minutes later, he parked near West Ninth Street and Dillon Avenue, and was talking to a man about selling a car.
The man apparently recognized a task force member parked nearby, and informed Mulberry, who sped off north on Dillon, went south down an alley and turned north on Griswold at about 70 mph.
The speed limit there is 30 mph.
When Mulberry ran the stop sign at West LeFevre, his car clipped Lee’s pickup so hard the truck rolled at least once.
Unmarked police vehicles that were southbound on Griswold and Woodburn avenues were a couple of blocks away and turning north to follow the fleeing Mulberry, and the officer leading the surveillance detail had just called it off upon learning that the task force member probably had been identified and that Mulberry was driving erratically, when the crash occurred.
State police investigated the crash, and turned their findings in to Whiteside County State’s Attorney Terry Costello, who filed the new charges on Nov. 20, but did not make them public until Mulberry could be found and arrested.
According to her family, Trosclair was living in Cedar Rapids at the time of her death, although Whiteside County Court records show that a warrant had been issued for her failure to appear in a misdemeanor retail theft case filed in November, in which her address was given as Sterling.