A Sugar Grove man who testified he used a samurai sword to defend himself from his roommate was acquitted of armed violence Tuesday by a Kane County jury.
The defendant, Ray A. Wilson, 48, of the 800 block of Merrill New Road mouthed a silent "thank you" to jurors when they returned a not-guilty verdict after about two hours of deliberation.
Kane County Assistant State's Atty. Amy Engerman expressed disappointment in the jury's verdict after the two-day trial before Kane County Circuit Judge Philip DiMarzio. "We believed the evidence was corroborated by our witness' testimony, and we still do," said Engerman.
Both Wilson and the state's key witness, David Suthard, 33, of Chicago, who had been addicted to crack cocaine, testified that the two fought in Wilson's bedroom the night of Nov. 8, and that Wilson used the sword against Suthard, nearly slicing off the man's ear.
But both men also said they acted in self-defense in the fight. Wilson testified that he had locked his bedroom door and gone to sleep when he was awakened by the sound of Suthard rifling through his dresser. He accused Suthard of stealing his money, Wilson said, and when he reached to check one of Suthard's pockets, "he latched onto my neck like some kind of pit bull," Wilson said.
The defendant, who stands 6-feet 3-inches and weighs more than 200 pounds, said he could not get the 5-foot 6-inch, 150-pound Suthard to stop biting his neck and was forced to carry Suthard across the room attached to his neck so he could get the sword.
"I didn't want to kill the fool," Wilson said, but he feared for his own life and was desperate to subdue Suthard. Wilson said he did not get medical treatment for the bite wound, but that he still suffers from numbness in his neck.
The defendant, who was convicted of bank robbery in California in the 1990s, said that after Suthard calmed down, Suthard begged him to not call the police, and so he didn't. "I figured he got punished for what he did and I got punished for being stupid enough to let him in my house." Wilson called Suthard's mother and told her to pick him up, he said.
Kathleen Colton, Wilson's attorney, said he is "very grateful" to be acquitted. Wilson was not released from jail, however, because he is facing more aggravated battery charges stemming from an incident in the Kane County Jail in May. He will return to court Friday for a bail reduction motion in that case.