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updated: 11/22/2013 7:27 PM

Guilty verdict in 2012 Sun City Huntley murder

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  • Michelle C. Mathieu

      Michelle C. Mathieu

  • Robert Signorile

      Robert Signorile

 
 

A McHenry County jury took less than 90 minutes Friday to convict Robert Signorile of beating to death his live-in girlfriend last year at their Sun City home in Huntley.

Signorile, 44, faces up to 60 years in prison for murdering Michelle C. Mathieu, 52, and he will be sentenced Jan. 24 by Judge Sharon Prather.

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Mathieu was hospitalized on March 18, 2012, and died six days later after her family took her off life support.

Signorile showed little emotion after the verdict, resting his cheek on his right palm as he had done at various stages of the trial.

Mathieu's relatives, dressed in purple for domestic violence awareness and because it was her favorite color, hugged afterward.

"It's bittersweet," Charles Mathieu said of the guilty verdict in his older sister's murder.

Prosecutors argued that Signorile had a long history of abusing Mathieu and he fractured her ribs and spine, and caused the head trauma that resulted in her death.

"This was somebody who opened up her life, opened up her home, opened up her love to a lot of people,"said McHenry County Assistant State's Attorney Robert Zalud in his closing argument. "Her fatal mistake is she gave all that love to this belligerent alcoholic right here."

During the three-day trial, witnesses testified that Mathieu was frequently bruised and beaten. A forensic pathologist testified that Mathieu's injuries were caused by an attack, not a fall.

Friends of Signorile testified that he kept repeating that "he didn't touch her" and was worried he'd be "charged with something" as they drove to Sherman Hospital.

But Mathieu's son testified that Signorile said Mathieu fell twice and hit her head, and later changed his story to say she fell three times.

Zalud argued that Signorile severely beat Mathieu and left her lying on the floor for nearly 10 hours before calling a friend, complaining she was passed out and wouldn't wake up.

"He abused her. He beat her over and over again," Zalud said. "On March 17, March 18, it turned into murder."

Defense attorneys argued that Mathieu was an alcoholic with a history of seizures and that a seizure and fall caused her injuries. Public Defender Rick Behof said Signorile never tried to flee authorities after Mathieu was hospitalized and there were no signs of a struggle in the home.

Signorile's hands were not bruised nor swollen, which would have happened if he struck Mathieu, Behof said.

But Assistant State's Attorney Patrick Kenneally said Signorile threw Mathieu into a dresser. "Anybody can just see with their eyes that somebody kicked the tar out of Michelle," Kenneally said.

Prosecutors also showed cellphone videos that Signorile took before Mathieu's death in which he repeatedly tells her that she falls a lot because of her alcohol abuse. This, Kenneally argued, was Signorile's attempt to groom his victim into lying about her injuries.

"Nobody, anywhere, deserves to be beaten to death by somebody they love and then despicably tries to blame that person for their own death," Kenneally told jurors. "This was a crime, this was murder. We ask that you hold this horror of a human being accountable for what he did."

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