By Brandi Makuski
A Stevens Point man faces jail time following his fifth OWI charge.
Nicholas Felella, 48, appeared for his pre-trial conference on Nov. 21 before Judge Thomas Flugaur on charges of operating with a controlled substance in his blood, fifth offense; operating without a license, second offense in three years; possession of drug paraphernalia and bail jumping. Flugaur determined it was “probable” a felony had been committed and bound Felella over for trial.
He previously pleaded not guilty to all charges in October.
According to the criminal complaint, a married couple were travelling west on County Hwy. B at about 11 AM on July 1 when they noticed a white vehicle following them. The husband, who was driving, told police the driver of the white vehicle began flashing the car’s lights, then accelerated rapidly from behind.
The motorist, later identified as Felella, then struck the couple’s vehicle, according to the complaint. No serious injuries were reported.
A witness told police following the crash, Felella stopped his car in the roadway, then turned on his vehicle’s wiper blades. When the witness stopped to see if Felella needed any assistance, the witness said Felella “looked like he was either convulsing or seizing and speaking randomly or ‘jibber jabbering’.”
The witness also told police Felella was unresponsive while he attempted to speak to him, but when law enforcement arrived, Felella “snapped out of it.”
A state trooper on the scene noted Felella was acting “unusually relaxed demeanor for someone involved in a traffic crash.”
Felella’s eyes were bloodshot, his lids were droopy and pupils were pin-holed, according to the complaint. Law enforcement could also smell marijuana on his clothing, and his tongue was covered in a “green slimy residue” indicative of marijuana use.
When asked if he’d taken any illegal or prescription drugs that day, he denied using any, saying he was returning from a friend’s home in Amherst and simply hadn’t had much sleep. Felella later admitted to smoking “one bowl worth of marijuana approximately 4-5 hours prior to the crash,” according to the complaint.
A search of his vehicle turned up a black metal pipe containing what appeared to be burnt marijuana, green “plant-like shake”, which also appeared to be marijuana, in his vehicle’s center console, and an unused hypodermic needle inside the trunk.
He refused medical treatment at the scene and was transported to Ministry St. Michael’s Hospital for a blood draw. He initially refused to cooperate, but then relented when officers informed him they could obtain his blood via a warrant.
He also told police he had a history of blackouts, and previously had his driver’s license revoked by a doctor.
Felella has four previous OWI convictions stemming back to 2000. He was also previously convicted of driving without a valid license in Feb. of 2016.
He faces more than seven years behind bars if convicted. His trial date is pending.