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updated: 4/28/2013 4:29 PM

Wonder Lake man loses appeal to manslaughter conviction

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Whenever a jury comes back with a guilty verdict, the defendant inevitably asks for a new trial, pledges to file an appeal and often claims the defense attorney was ineffective.

Most such appeals are shot down, but some turn out favorably for the defendant.

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Such was the case for an Elgin man who was freed from prison this month after a conviction and 15-year sentence for possession of a kilo of cocaine with intent to deliver. And a McHenry man who in March got his sentence reduced from 10 years to 6 years in prison for stealing copper pipes from a vacant home. He successfully argued he was guilty only of burglary, not residential burglary, because no one lived there.

A former Wonder Lake man sentenced to 23 years in prison for fatally beating and raping his girlfriend in summer 2009 didn't fare so well, however.

An appellate court panel rejected 43-year-old Thomas Brown's argument he shouldn't have been convicted of aggravated criminal sexual assault because the victim gave "implied consent" by never specifically telling him "no." Nevermind the fact prosecutors said Brown inflicted severe and ultimately fatal head injuries to the woman first.

"We find that the jury's verdict finding defendant guilty of aggravated criminal sexual assault is neither improbable, unconvincing, inconclusive, nor contrary to human experience," read part of the ruling. "Defendant, immediately after beating (the victim), committed an act of sexual penetration on her while she was in the throes of death."

According to court documents, Brown called authorities the morning of June 9, 2009, after the badly beaten woman did not wake up.

The woman, who was going through a divorce, had been living with Brown. He initially claimed he thought someone had drugged her because she was acting differently the night before. He later admitted to arguing with her because she was talking to another man online, and eventually told police he beat her that night before they had "makeup sex."

"Although defendant maintained that (the victim) consented, he never described any conversation with (her) regarding her consent to the act. Rather, he said it happened after the 'argument' and that it was 'makeup sex,' which occurred immediately after slamming (her) into the bedroom wall," the justices wrote. "While defendant maintains that (the victim) was 'awake' during the sex act he performed on her, and that the act was consensual, it was up to the jury to decide whether (the victim) was unable to give knowing consent and whether defendant knew that she was unable to give knowing consent.

"We find that there was more than sufficient evidence to support the jury's verdict," the appellate justices ruled.

Brown will be released in spring 2027 and also must register as a sex offender, according to the Illinois Department of Corrections.

hhitzeman@dailyherald.com

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