As a result of an altercation after the October, 2010, Grafton Township Board meeting, David Moore, husband of then-Supervisor Linda Moore, was charged with committing misdemeanor against Township Trustee Gerald McMahon.
Today, after a bench trial that lasted two days, Judge Micheal Fetterrer found Moore not guilty.
The Judge observed that there were four witnesses, McMahon, Linda and David Moore and Township Attorney
“I can’t find beyond a reasonable doubt that the offense was committed,” the Judge said.
“I’m finding Mr. Moore not guilty.”
Within the first four minutes of the night’s meeting, according to Linda Moore, Trustee McMahon “screamed, ‘We need to do something about this. We need to get her into criminal court on this.'”
The “this” was paying former attorney James Kelly’s bill. Kelly served the previous Supervisor and was dismissed by Linda Moore after she beat him.
I missed yesterday’s hearing so I have relied on Judge Fetterrer’s summary when he ruled against a directed verdict requested by David Moore attorney Bill Bligh.
To obtain a directed verdict, as did McHenry County State’s Attorney Lou Bianchi and his fellow defendants when they were charged with criminal acts by a Special Prosecutor, a judge must conclude that the evidence presented by the prosecution, when taken in the light most favorable to the defendant, doesn’t have a chance of succeeding.
Summarizing the case of to that point, the Court pointed out there were two who testified to the event, McMahon and Keri-Lyn Krafthefer.
McMahon told of waiting to go home while his wife Donna was conversing.
Linda Moore came to the door and started shouting about violating the Open Meetings Act.
He told Linda Moore to go home and proceeded to David Moore who had his video camera. He was one to one and a half feet away and put up his hand. At that point, McMahon said David Moore pushed him and almost knocked him down. The blown was hard and unexpected. McMahon said he did not touch David Moore.
After he was shoved, McMahon said he “whacked” David Moore on the face with his broken left arm. McMahon admitted that Moore’s glasses may have gone flying.
McMahon said he did not close the distance between himself and Linda Moore.
McMahon said he put his left hand in front of the camera, but did not think he had made physical contact with the camera.
Krafthefer was the other prosecution witness to the event.
She said she noticed a commotion and saw a recording device in McMahon’s face.
McMahon put a finger on or near the camera [to block the lens}. [I missed the next line, but the word “missed” was in it.]
I think the Judge said that her next comment was that McMahon pushed David Moore, knocking his glasses off.
“That’s what I have so far, Judge Feeterrer said.
“There’s evidence of touching by the defendant, so the motion is denied,” he said before adjourning court for lunch.
Then, Donna McMahon called the Huntley Police.
McMahon admitted to not liking Linda or David Moore and objected to being videoed, but he did not make him angry.
Linda Moore was the next witness.
She told how the meeting went on for “probably more than four hours” and when she and her husband left the room to take the shortest route to the parking lot, the doors had been locked.
So, they walked up the hall along the side of the meeting room.
Passing the back door to the room, Linda Moore saw three of the four Trustees talking.
She said she leaned into the room and asked, “Are you guys still meeting?”
“Trustee McMahon came out of no where and stood six inches, less maybe, and started screaming louder than he had at any meeting.”
The characterization was objected to by Assistant State’s Attorney Dan Wilbrandt. It was sustained by the Court.
Linda Moore then said he was “screaming loud enough to hurt my ears, physically shaking saying, “No,” repeatedly and calling me a fucking bitch and other [obscenities] I prefer not to [say], spitting in my face because of the way he was speaking.
“Next, my husband came to my side and had the video camera in his hands, both holding it up attempting to turn it on.” (Another bjection at this point.)
“They were shaking level with his eyes.
“McMahon made a quarter turn and stepped toward David pressing his stomach into David [as] he reached up with both hands. [With] all four hands on the camera, the batteries fell out.
“Trustee McMahon lost his grip [and] lost his balance. When he regained [it], he took a full arm swing at his [David’s] face, extremely hard [swing] at his face.
“David’s glasses came off his face and went flying.
“After he hit David, I think that’s the end of the contact between the two.
“We all kind of backed away from each other.
“We’ve got to call the police,” she told David.
Neither could get a signal, but Mrs. McMahon was also trying to call the police.
“After the incident I sat on the floor.”
Attorney John Nelson asked whether there were disputes between Linda Moore and the Trustees.
An objection resulted in that line of questioning being disallowed:
“I don’t see the relevance of the disagreements of Mrs. Moore and the Board of Trustees,” Judge Feetterer observed.
Nelson noted that there was litigation pending at the time and that the two sides had “a terrible relationship.”
“The Board of Trustees aren’t the complainants in this case,” the Judge replied.
Nelson asked more personal questions:
- “Did you ever lash out at Mr. McMahon?
- “Did you ever touch Mr. McMahon?
- “Did you ever strike Mr. McMahon?
- “Any other physical contact between the two of them?”
“No” was Linda Moore’s answer to each question.
Before allowing the prosecution to question Linda Moore, Nelson asked about a conversation between McMahon and Moore at the beginning of the four-hour meeting.
“Did he express you should be charged with a criminal offense?”
Moore said the subject involved her refusal to pay a bill from former attorney Jim Kelly because it was the subject of litigation.
“We need to do something about this. We need to get her into criminal court on this,” Moore quoted McMahon, saying he said it “at the top of his voice.”
In his cross examination, Wilbrandt probed whether Linda had talked to her husband about the trail since it started.
Nelson objected on the basis of “spousal privilege,” but was overruled by the Judge.
In answers to other questions by Wilbrandt, Linda Moore said the following:
“He came towards me. He came at me and stood within six inches of me. Face-to-face. He’s shorter than me. We were face-to-face…in the doorway.
“I never spoke after I asked, “Were they having a [secret meeting].
“When David came to my side he made a quarter turn. David was on my left in the doorway. I never moved.
“That [other] space was filled by Mr. McMahon.
“He came up around my side.
“Mr. McMahon pivoted and stepped toward David….
“The camera was very close to his face, three to four inches from his face.
“There was zero distance.
“Gerry’s belly was into David’s.”
Wilbrandt then elicited that the Moores had been married twenty-eight years.
“You wouldn’t want anything bad to happen to him, [would you]?” the prosecutor asked.
“No. I try to look after him,” Linda Moore replied.
“[You] never saw you husband strike Gerry, [right]?”
“Fair to say you remember it very clearly?”
In his redirect, Nelson brought up the subject of Linda’s not wanting her husband convicted of battery.
He asked if that desire had influenced her testimony.
Over a dismissed objection Linda Moore said her testimony was influenced by
“My knowledge of the event.
“He did not commit battery.
“I love my husband.
“I feel I have a duty to uphold the law, to do what’s right.
“We should do the right things.
“People should be honorable.”
David Moore was next up.
He was questioned by Bligh.
David Moore said the meeting he taped ran from 7:30-11:40.
As he was walking with his wife up the hall next to the meeting room he saw Linda stick “her head in the back door and ask if they were conducting a meeting.”
Then, he hear a lot of screaming, a man’s voice that he identified as Gerald McMahon.
How did he know?
“Gerald McMahon raised his voice a lot at the meetings, but never that loud.
“Once I saw what happened, I knew I needed to record that not appropriate behavior.
“[He as] yelling, ‘You fucking bitch!”
Then he put the plastic milk basket down, retrieved his video camera and approached the doorway.
He attempted to enter, holding the camera at eye level.
“It takes two hands to hold it,” David Moore testified.
“Always two hands?” Bligh asked.
“If it’s not on a tripod.
“I raised it up and took a step forward…in the doorway to get to the altercation…
“As [I was] turning on the camera Gerry McMahon turned his attention from Linda to me.
“I raised it up.
“He has his hands on it.
“I wasn’t going to let it go.
“The batteries fell out.
“He lost his balance.
“It’s my camera and that’s my only evidence of the altercation.”
Bligh asked, “Did you authorize Gerald McMahon to touch the camera?”
“[His hands] put sort of a blur [on the lens].
“I didn’t even see it coming. All of a sudden my head jerked around and my glasses went flying off.
“Trustee Zirk retrieved them for me.
“I was able to pick up the batteries and put them back and start recording..
“Next, Linda told me I should call the police. I attempted to call the police, but couldn’t.”
In answer to another question, “He has his hands on the lens. His hands were on the camera.”
“Did you initiate any physical contact with Mr. McMahon.?
The police arrived while Linda and David were sitting in the hall near the back door.
The policeman was interviewing the other witness down the hall just around the corner.
“Linda and I could hear them down the hallway, [but] couldn’t see them.”
David heard Gerald McMahon say, “If David’s not going to press charges, I’m not going to press charges.”
Husband and wife were separated while the policeman interviewed them.
The policeman said something to David about his having initiated contact.
“I guess you could say that,” David replied.
“I wasn’t feeling well and everything happened.
Bligh asked a series of short questions?
- “Did you initiate contact?
- “Did you shove [him]?
- “Did you push [him]?
- Did you push his arm?
- Did you initiate [anything] before he touched you?
The answer to all except the last was “No.”
To the initiation question, Moore’s answer was “Absolutely not!”
In reply to how he felt the next day, Moore replied, “Not very well, a severe headache and neck hurting.”
The video Moore took after the altercation was shown over objection of the Assistant State’s Attorney.
“I want to see it,” Judge Feetterer said.
It was about two minutes long and showed Donna McMahon calling the Huntley Police and other milling about.
Bligh asked why part of the video was black.
Moore replied that he was cleaning the lens.
“Mr. McMahon smudged the lens.
He was also asked why some was bright and other parts dark.
“Mr. McMahon is turning on and off the lights.”
Assistant State’s Attorney Wilbrandt walked Moore through his testimony asking distance and position questions.
Wilbrandt fixed his attention on one answer, “It was a blur.”
As it was becoming time when I had to leave the courtroom, David Moore said that it was 2-3 seconds before he raised his camera from eye level to above his hear. Within twenty seconds the batteries had fallen out–before he could get the video cam recording.