Calling it the worst case of domestic battery she has ever seen, a judge sentenced a Huntley man Friday to 40 years for beating his girlfriend to death inside the Sun City home they shared.
Robert Signorile faced a sentence that ranged between 20 and 60 years for the murder of Michelle Mathieu, his girlfriend of seven years. His public defender, Angelo Mourelatos, said he filed an appeal after Friday's sentencing.
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Prosecutors have said Signorile, 45, had a long history of abusing Mathieu and that on March 18, 2012, the day of the final beating, he fractured her ribs and spine, and caused the head trauma that resulted in her death.
Mathieu, 52, died six days after the beating when her family took her off life support. Signorile was found guilty of her murder in November.
McHenry County Judge Sharon Prather said Signorile destroyed Mathieu's self-esteem and broke her spirit during their relationship. The judge referred to phone videos Signorile took before Mathieu's death in which he repeatedly tells her that she falls a lot because of her alcohol abuse. That, Prather said, "was one of the most disturbing things this court has ever seen."
"There is no excuse for the acts and the behavior that you engaged in," Prather told Signorile. "You could have simply walked away."
Nine of Mathieu's friends and family members attended the hearing and they said they were satisfied with the sentence, which was 10 years shorter than prosecutors requested.
"I got what I wanted," said Ann Peeples, Mathieu's best friend since she was 16 years old.
Michelle Mathieu was a mother, a grandmother, a sister, an aunt and a friend.
During the hearing, Marina Mathieu Kuhn and Charles Mathieu -- Michelle Mathieu's sister and brother -- each read impact statements to the court and asked the judge to impose the maximum sentence. Signorile looked away and put his hand to his right cheek as they read their statements.
Charles Mathieu called Signorile a "brutal, destructive, controlling monster," and talked about the tremendous loss his family suffered from his sister's death. She wasn't even able to listen to the last song his son played for her, he said, because she was in a coma from the beating.
"Michelle is in God's hands," Charles Mathieu said. "May justice be served."
Kuhn, reading her statement on behalf of her sister-in-law Julie Ann Mathieu, said she hopes her sister's case inspires victims of domestic violence to seek help.
Michelle Mathieu and Signorile briefly split up, but she eventually took him back and let him move in with her in Huntley. He had previously been convicted of battery in 2011 after he punched Mathieu several times and dragged her by the hair. He was sentenced to a year of supervision and a $263 fine and was ordered to attend anger counseling.
"Her fatal flaw was that she valued Robert Signorile more than herself," Kuhn said.
Signorile, meanwhile, had three supporters in court sitting behind him.
One of them, his nephew, Nicholas Earl, testified Friday that Signorile was the father he never had and taught him how to fish and hunt. When Earl needed money or help with his homework, he said he always knew he could count on his uncle to come through.
"He's not the monster you guys portray him to be, he doesn't deserve to go to jail for the rest of his life," Earl said through tears. "He didn't kill her." Signorile also proclaimed his innocence.
"I love Michelle more than anybody in this whole courtroom," Signorile said. "I'll fight until the day I die to prove my innocence."