The father of an infant who drowned last month in Lake Minnetonka made his first court appearance Friday afternoon after being charged earlier in the week with vehicular homicide.
Jonathan Markle, accompanied by his attorney, turned himself in and surrendered his passport Thursday night. He was assigned a cell and sat behind obscured windows in the courtroom.
Prosecutors say Markle was legally drunk on the evening of Jan. 18 when his family’s vehicle broke through the ice underneath the Halstead Bay Bridge in Minnetrista. Markle’s nine-month old daughter Tabitha was trapped in the SUV and died three days after the accident.
Two other family members—Markle's wife, Amanda, and another female child—were also in the vehicle went it went through the ice. Both made it to safety, thanks to quick-thinking first responders. Amanda Markle is a speech clinician with the Richfield Public Schools District. She was not in court Friday afternoon.
Markle’s attorney, Joe Friedberg, spoke to reporters following Friday’s hearing and said his client dove down six feet in freezing water on three occasions to rescue the infant.
“The first two he was unable to get the car seat unhooked,” Friedberg said. “On the last one he probably couldn’t do that. His hands just weren’t working anymore.”
A blood alcohol test administered at two hours after the accident came back at .13, but Friedberg questioned whether consent had been given to extract the sample.
“There’s a case in front of the United States Supreme Court right now out of Missouri,” Friedberg said. “There are 25 states that require a warrant—Minnesota doesn’t—and that is a very contemporary legal issue.”
Friedberg went on to say he didn’t yet know enough about the Markle case to “see what side of that law we’re on.”
“I haven’t read a complaint yet that made anyone look anything other than guilty,” Friedberg said. “What is the word? ‘Submitted?’ It sounds like that’s a chosen word.”
As for the three-week gap between the accident and charges being filed by the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office, Friedberg said he thought it was “about the amount of time it normally takes” for a charge like vehicular homicide to reach a judge.
Markle said little in court, only reciting his name and answering, “yes” to a series of simple questions. Conditional bail was set at $50,000. He is expected to be released before the weekend.
Richfield Patch will update readers as more information becomes available.
- Baby in Critical Condition After Vehicle Breaks Through Lake Minnetonka Ice
- Firefighters Dove In The Icy Water to Reach Infant Trapped in Vehicle: Sheriff's Update
- Baby Dies From Injuries Suffered in Lake Minnetonka Accident
- Obituary: Tabitha Rose Markle