Innocent verdict for man who climbed in Mr. Beef drive-through window

Posted4/30/2012 7:16 PM

The last seven months have been stressful for Hachem Gomez, the 21-year-old man caught on surveillance video last September pushing his way into the drive-through window of the Mr. Beef and Pizza on Elmhurst Road in Mount Prospect, an incident reported around the world.

Through it all, his sister Ivon Gomez has stood by his side.


She was there Monday afternoon when Cook County Judge Kay Hanlon told Hachem Gomez he was free to go after finding him not guilty of burglary at the conclusion of his bench trial in Rolling Meadows.

Outside the courtroom, a very happy Ivon Gomez expressed relief at the outcome. A few feet away, Cook County Assistant Public Defender Joe Gump expressed admiration for Ivon.

"She's incredible," said Gump of the 22-year-old who since 2009 has served as caretaker for her brother, who suffers from ADHD and schizophrenia.

Gump also praised Hanlon's ruling.

"It's very clear he lacked the mental capacity to commit a burglary," said Gump.

Noting the videotape showed Gomez squeezing through the window, past a metal gate, shortly after 3 a.m. Sept 10, Hanlon acknowledge that he entered the restaurant knowing it was closed. But she said prosecutors had not proved Gomez intended to commit a theft.

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That had been Gump's position all along. He argued that his client, who takes medication for his mental illness and has no criminal background, was not capable of forming the intent to commit a crime.

"Mr. Gomez didn't go into Mr. Beef and Pizza for the purposes of theft," said Gump. "There's no evidence he got anything to eat."

Co-owner Kurt Zundel and Mount Prospect police officer Michael Wood testified they found chicken tenders and french fries in a microwave and two cups -- one of which did not come from the restaurant -- containing beverages on a counter. But they found nothing missing and no evidence Gomez had eaten anything.

"Most of the business appeared to be in order," testified William Ryan, one of the first officers on the scene, who said Gomez was "fully cooperative," walked to the front of the restaurant when officers instructed him to do so, and did not appear to be under the influence of alcohol.

Ryan further testified that at the police station, Gomez told him he took medication.

Ivon Gomez, a claims adjuster who attends Harper College, said that Hachem and their older brother Emanuel live with her and her fiance in Mount Prospect. She testified that Hachem's medication makes him hungry and he sometimes wakes up in the middle of the night and eats.

"I don't think he knew anything other than he was getting something to eat," Gump said.

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