Lake County deputy gets state honor for lifesaving action in assault

Lake County Sheriff’s Deputy Andrew Martini has never started a shift in his nearly 10 years on the force imagining he might soon find himself in a life-or-death confrontation, even though he always knew it was a possibility.

That possibility became a reality Oct. 18 when a man armed with a meat cleaver charged his family members and Martini in a Round Lake-area home, forcing the deputy to open fire and kill him.

Martini’s lifesaving actions that day were recognized this week with the state’s Law Enforcement Medal of Honor. The prestigious award is given annually to police officers who display exceptional bravery or heroism while performing their duties.

“It’s always in the back of your mind that something like that could happen, but you never think it’s going to happen to you,” Martini said of the shooting.

Martini had responded to a 911 call that afternoon from a woman who said her husband had tried to kill himself and needed help. When he arrived at their home, Martini said he found the man lying apparently unconscious in a pool of blood and began giving him first-aid.

That’s when the 46-year-old man suddenly came to, grabbed a cleaver and lunged at the deputy and family members.

“I drew my service weapon and shot him,” Martini said. “It happened so fast there was almost no time to think.”

After the shooting, Martini went back to what he had been doing when he first arrived — giving the man medical assistance.

“Even though he had just tried to harm me, it was my job to help him,” he said.

Seven months later, Martini credits his training as a member of the Lake County Sheriff’s Tactical Response Team — the office’s version of a SWAT team — for his quick response that day.

“I have no doubt the training I received saved my life and the life of the others in that room,” he said.

As for the award, Martini said it was nice to be honored this week at a ceremony in Springfield attended by his parents, sister and colleagues, as well as Gov. J.B. Pritzker and other dignitaries.

But that kind of recognition was nowhere in mind when he set off on his path to a law enforcement career when he joined the Lincolnshire Police Department’s Explorers program as a teenager.

“I liked to solve problems, and I saw law enforcement as a challenging career in which I’d be able to solve problems,” he said. “It’s a tremendous honor, but I do what I do because I like to help people.”

Lake County Sheriff's Deputy Andrew Martini, second from left, poses with colleagues Monday after receiving the state's Law Enforcement Medal of Honor. With him, from left, are Deputy Chief Gianni Giamberduca, Sgt. Michael Kuvales and Deputy Chief Christopher Covelli. Courtesy of the Lake County Sheriff's Office

More awards

Martini isn’t the only suburban cop to earn state honors in recent weeks.

Oakwood Hills Police Chief Ray Cordell, who started his 38-year career as a patrol officer in South Barrington, was named Chief of the Year late last month by the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police.

And Algonquin police Sgt. Steven Skrodzki earned the association’s Criminal Investigator of the Year Award. The nine-year department veteran cleared numerous open sex crime investigations in the previous year and “takes hard work, tenacity, and dedication to a new level,” according to the association.

The group’s Laurence P. Mulcrone Private Security Partnership Award went to Terrence Hughes, the director of security at Oakbrook Center mall.

Less time in prison

A man convicted of killing a married couple in Bartlett is likely to be released from prison 11 years earlier than expected.

Should juvenile killers get parole?

3 suburban killers who could get out of prison

Appellate court upholds 90-year sentence for Bartlett double murder by teen

Sean Helgesen was charged in 1993 with the murders of Peter and Diana Robles. Helgesen, then 17, and Eric Robles, 17, the victims’ son, entered the home. Helgesen stabbed and slashed Peter Robles 22 times, then attacked Diana Robles, stabbing and slashing her 29 times. Eric Robles had paid Helgesen to do the crime.

Sean Helgesen

Helgesen was sentenced to natural life in prison in 1995, because the law at the time mandated it when two or more people were killed.

After the U.S. Supreme Court prohibited natural life sentences without possibility of parole for juveniles in 2012, Helgesen was resentenced to two concurrent 90-year sentences. A judge said Helgesen qualified for the extended-term sentences because Diana Robles was disabled, having to use crutches to walk due to leg damage from polio. Those sentences were upheld on appeal. In 2021, the last time we wrote about Helgesen, he was scheduled to possibly get out in 2038.

Helgesen was in the midst of asking again to be resentenced, which was likely going to end up in an appeals court again.

But in January state law changed on how to calculate day-for-day credits and credits for taking classes and programming behind bars.

With recalculation, Helgesen is now eligible for parole in December 2027.

Given that an appeal could take several years, Helgesen dropped his resentencing effort.

He is currently in the Kewanee Life Skills Re-Entry Center in Kewanee, which prepares people for life on the outside.

Eric Robles, who was found guilty but mentally ill at his first trial, pleaded guilty at a retrial. He is serving a 100-year sentence, and could be paroled in 2033, according to the Illinois Department of Corrections.

Look up

If you are going to the Memorial Day march Monday in Geneva, look up, and you will see the Geneva Police Department’s drone taking its inaugural flight.

Two officers have FAA certificates to fly the Skydio X10 drone.

The Illinois Drones As First Responders law allows police to use drones for real-time monitoring during parades and special events. Notices have to be posted at entry points to the events.

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