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updated: 10/12/2012 3:31 PM

Judge rejects self-defense argument in Naperville bar stabbing

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  • Adam B. Hearn

    Adam B. Hearn


A Lombard man was convicted of aggravated battery Friday for stabbing a bouncer during a scuffle at a Naperville bar.

Adam Hearn, 33, was acquitted of attempted murder a day earlier by DuPage County Judge George Bakalis, who on Friday also declined to convict him of armed violence.

The defense argued Hearn acted in self-defense when he knifed BlackFinn American Saloon bouncer Sean Brutto during a melee that erupted when Hearn and his date were caught smoking in the women's restroom.

Bakalis, however, said Hearn was clearly the "initial aggressor" and his use of force unjustified.

"He made no attempt to withdraw himself from physical contact," Bakalis said, rejecting the self-defense argument.

The fracas in March 2011 broke out after Brutto grabbed Hearn by the arm to escort him from the building and Hearn responded by slugging him in the face.

Hearn then jabbed Brutto in the abdomen with a pocketknife as the victim -- a former wrestler -- tried to put him in a "guillotine chokehold," according to testimony. Several other bar workers rushed in to help, including the general manager, who subdued Hearn by placing him in another chokehold.

Brutto later underwent surgery that determined his injury was not life-threatening.

Bakalis said he found Hearn guilty of aggravated battery rather than armed violence because the armed violence charge was based on allegations identical to a less-serious aggravated battery charge that prosecutors dismissed just before trial.

The verdict will result in a much shorter sentencing range for Hearn, who was convicted of attempted murder in 1996 for opening fire on a gang rival's party.

Because of his criminal background, he could have faced a life sentence if convicted of armed violence or attempted murder. He now faces up to 10 years in prison.

Hearn returns to court Nov. 9. A sentencing date has not been set.

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