Lombard man acquitted of murder charges in Elmhurst bar stabbing

A Lombard man was acquitted Wednesday of first-degree murder in the stabbing of a 28-year-old man during a confrontation outside an Elmhurst bar.

Ronald Dunbar, 58, killed Karl Bomba, 28, of Yorkville, with a single stab to his chest on April 10, 2021. Dunbar acknowledged stabbing Bomba but said he was defending himself.

DuPage County Judge Ann Celine O’Hallaren Walsh ruled he was not guilty on five counts of first-degree murder and one count of unlawful use of a weapon.

The five-day trial took place last week. Friends and relatives of Bomba and supporters of Dunbar packed the courtroom.

“Regardless of the outcome, Karl Bomba’s life was taken under senseless circumstances,” Walsh said before announcing the verdict.

She said the sole issue was whether Dunbar unreasonably believed he was justified in using deadly force to stab Bomba.

She said the events in and outside the bar before the stabbing were relevant to Dunbar being afraid he was going to be killed or injured.

“In a very short period of time the defendant saw (Bomba and his brother) wreak havoc on the Spring Inn before the defendant even exited the bar,” Walsh said.

  An April 2021 fight that began inside Spring Inn bar in Elmhurst and then spilled outside left a 28-year-old Yorkville man dead. Brian Hill/

Bomba went to Spring Inn bar on Spring Road with his girlfriend and his brother. Before that, Bomba and the girlfriend had been on a wine-tasting crawl and met his brother at a wine bar across the street.

Dunbar was at Spring Inn bar with his wife. They were regular patrons.

Some witnesses, including a bartender, testified that the Bomba party was loud and obnoxious, including refusing to pull their COVID-19 masks up and Karl Bomba going into a restroom with his girlfriend. The bartender also testified that the twin brother pulled down the bartender’s mask and insulted him.

An autopsy revealed Bomba had a blood alcohol content of .23, nearly three times the legal standard for intoxicated driving.

Prosecutor: Elmhurst bar slaying was revenge, not self-defense

‘I thought I could die’: Bartender testifies in Elmhurst murder trial, says he was scared of being hurt by victim

The bartender told them to leave and pushed the brothers out. Dunbar joined the push and testified one of the Bombas punched him in the head.

Once outside, the Bombas yelled. One pounded on the now-locked door. One allegedly threw a barstool at a window. Bomba punched a 4-by-6-foot window, shattering it.

A video showed Bomba crossing Spring toward his brother’s car. But when the bartender came outside, Bomba turned back, and both Bombas tried to punch the bartender, according to a video played in court.

Self-defense or murder? Lombard man makes his case about 2021 fight

Several bar patrons, including Dunbar, came outside. Two testified they were trying to take pictures of the license plates on the car. Bomba threw one of them into the road, Dunbar and the man testified. Then Bomba turned back toward the car, where Dunbar was standing.

Dunbar then took a folding Buck knife out of his pocket and raised it. He testified he did so because he was afraid Bomba would hit him.

Dunbar said Bomba tried to punch him, and he deflected the punch with his other arm.

The Bombas then left. A few minutes later, the brother realized Karl was hurt and called 911. Bomba died two days later, having never regained consciousness.

Dunbar went home and washed his knife. He said there was little blood on the blade, so he assumed he had merely nicked or grazed Bomba.

But prosecutor Diane Michalak argued that was a sign of consciousness of guilt. She also argued that Dunbar had checked his pocket to make sure he had his knife before he came out of the bar and that he killed Bomba in revenge.

Dan Cummings, one of the attorneys for Dunbar, said the judge ruled correctly. He said Dunbar had no choice in a terrible situation.

“We do feel badly Mr. Bomba passed away in this incident, and our sympathy goes to the family,” Cummings said.

“I respect Judge O’Hallaren Walsh’s decision in this case,” DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin said in a written statement.

He added that his office filed the first-degree murder charges in good faith.

“This was a challenging case from the beginning,” Berlin said, “and I thank Assistant State’s Attorneys Robert Willis, Diane Michalak and Bethany Jackson for their efforts on behalf of the people of the State of Illinois.”

Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.