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updated: 4/23/2013 8:14 PM

Wood Dale cop's wife, neighbor testify about 2011 home invasion

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  • Kerin Ramirez

      Kerin Ramirez

 
 

The wife of a Wood Dale police sergeant said she initially thought the early morning noise of an intruder in their home was the noise of her 4-year-old son, a frequent "early riser" who liked to build furniture forts.

"My husband went down to check out the noise, but I stayed in bed and put my head down on the pillow to go back to sleep," Diane Peters testified. "I didn't realize there was a problem until my husband called up to me to call 911."

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As she called 911 and herded her two young children into her upstairs bedroom, her husband, Sgt. Michael Peters was engaged in a knockdown, drag-out fight with the intruder.

"I heard my husband fighting with someone," she said. "I heard thuds on the wood floor and grunts. I could definitely tell there was a fight."

Former Harper College wrestler Kerin Ramirez is on trial, accused of invading the officer's home in an unincorporated area near Carol Stream in September 2011.

Michael Peters testified last week that he shot Ramirez in the abdomen after a neighbor came to help and the two were still unable to subdue him.

Joseph Zbilski, a 66-year-old retired DuPage County sheriff's deputy, testified Tuesday that even with a debilitating lower back injury, he hurried across the street to assist Peters. He ended up suffering bruised ribs for three weeks.

"He just told me to hit him in the head," Zbilski said. "(Ramirez) was on the ground and I laid across his torso and tried to subdue is arms and hands, but he kneed me several times. He was very aggressive and violent and he didn't seem to tire at all."

Zbilski said he didn't hear a word from Ramirez, either, until Peters shot him.

"He said, 'That really hurt,' when he was shot," Zbilski said. "That was it."

The defense contends Ramirez was extremely drunk, with a blood alcohol level of .182, when he wandered into the house, just six doors down from a party he attended earlier that night.

Ramirez, then 19, had no criminal intent and fought back only after Peters shoved him, defense attorney Gal Pissetzky told jurors.

According to earlier testimony, Peters said he encountered Ramirez about 7 a.m. after being awakened by a "loud crash." He went to investigate and found a "strange man" standing near his 4-year-old son at a stairway landing.

"I said, 'Get out of my house,'" the 16-year police veteran testified. "He looked at me and said, kind of under his breath, '(Expletive) you, get out of my house.'"

Peters said Ramirez pulled off his own shirt and flexed his muscles, then started to approach.

The officer said he put out his hand to push Ramirez toward the front door. That's when Ramirez body-slammed the officer, climbed on top of him and threw the first punches of what would be a lengthy fight, Peters said.

When Zbilski arrived, Peters ran to his vehicle for his duty weapon, according to testimony.

Ramirez and Zbilski were still wrestling when Peters returned and announced he was a police officer and had a gun.

Then Ramirez "grabbed me with his legs and threw me to the ground," Peters testified.

Peters said he fired twice because the first round malfunctioned. When the second shot hit Ramirez, "he finally stopped fighting," Peters said, admitting he later dragged Ramirez outside by the feet.

Ramirez, now 21, of Addison, has been in custody on $300,000 bail since his arrest in October 2011.

The case is expected to go to a jury Wednesday.

• Daily Herald staff writer Josh Stockinger contributed to this report.

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