A six-person DuPage County jury deliberated for more than two hours Thursday evening before finding Demetrice Tompkins guilty of severely beating and stabbing the mother of his two young children.
The two-day trial concluded with the jury finding Tompkins, 49, of Chicago, guilty of attempted murder, aggravated domestic violence and armed violence in the December 2011 attack.
Contact information ( * required )
Crystal Ward, 43, testified Wednesday she and her 3-year-old son were visiting Tompkins' brother James Kirkwood in Lombard that Monday morning. While Ward was there, Tompkins, with whom she was no longer romantically involved, arrived home from work and entered the apartment where he sometimes stayed.
Ward said Tompkins, already angry with her for going out the night before while he watched their two children, began questioning her about her whereabouts and accused her of "seeing someone else." She said Tompkins slapped a drink out of her hand, causing her to slip on the floor, when she told him not to question her.
Ward said the beating started when she then told Tompkins she would attend a court hearing stemming from a July 2011 domestic dispute between the two.
"That's when he dragged me to the bathroom and started punching me," Ward testified. "I was facing the mirror and I could see my face changing colors as he punched me."
During a break in the attack, Ward said she sat against the washroom door to prevent Tompkins from coming back at her, but after a struggle, he forced his way back in.
"He looked at me and pulled a knife with his right hand. I asked him what he was going to do with that and he said, 'I'm going to jail for murder today.' Then he slit my left wrist and stabbed my torso," Ward said. "I said, 'Are you really going to do this? What about our kids?' and he said, 'You don't care about them anyway' and he stabbed me again. I started praying."
Kirkwood, who was locked out of the bathroom during the attack, said he called 911 and Tompkins fled his apartment shortly before police arrived.
"This was an ambush and attack on Crystal Ward. (Tompkins) knew exactly what he was doing when he closed that bathroom door," Assistant State's Attorney Anne Celine O'Hallaren said during her closing arguments Thursday. "And he was caught red-handed."
Tompkins' lawyers did not call any witnesses in his defense and Tompkins did not testify.
In a 45-minute video of Tompkins' interrogation, played by prosecutors Thursday, Tompkins told police he remembers very little from the morning of Dec. 12, 2011, but he remembers the phrase that ended the attack in a Lombard apartment.
Tompkins said he "blacked out" and remembers only slapping 43-year-old Crystal Ward with an open hand.
"She looked at me and said, 'Don't let nobody else raise our children,'" Tompkins said on the video. "And I stopped. I snapped out of it and saw the white shirt she had on was covered in blood."
Shortly before police arrived, Tompkins fled to Ward's apartment in the same complex, changed his clothes and grabbed a butcher knife from the kitchen.
"He took the knife to the bedroom and told us he tried to kill himself because the voices in his head were telling him to 'kill (himself), too,'" Lombard detective Benny Ranallo testified. "When that didn't work, he said he wanted to lunge at the officers with the knife so they would shoot and kill him."
In the video, Tompkins said he decided not to be shot and killed by police in Ward's home because that "wouldn't be fair to the kids."
Assistant Public Defender Kyle Rubeck said Ward was drunk the morning of the incident, making her testimony unreliable. He also said it was important to note the state never presented any DNA or fingerprint evidence from the knife found in the tub of the apartment.
"There is simply not enough here to find my client guilty of anything," Rubeck told jurors during closing arguments.
At the time of the stabbing, Tompkins was out on bail and awaiting trial in the July 2011 domestic battery case involving Ward. His criminal record includes a prior domestic battery charge and a drug possession case from the late 1990s.
His next court appearance is scheduled for July 2 for post-trial motions. He faces a maximum prison sentence of up to 30 years in prison.