Burlington Twp. man acquitted of murder gets probation for domestic battery
A Burlington Township man acquitted of his father's murder but convicted of felony domestic battery was sentenced to four years' probation Thursday.
Daniel M. Rak, 32, faced up to seven years in prison for punching his dad and throwing a vodka bottle at him in February 2016 after a jury convicted him this summer of aggravated domestic battery.
That same jury took about two hours to find him not guilty of first-degree murder or involuntary manslaughter in the death of his father, Jeffrey Rak, 58.
Rak, who did not testify at his trial, apologized and blamed himself in a statement read to the court Thursday.
"I believe my actions alone are the cause of this entire situation," he said. "I do not forgive myself for what I did and I do not expect forgiveness."
The sentence issued by Judge D.J. Tegeler included 180 days at the Kane County jail, but Rak already served that as part of the 14 months he was jailed while his case was pending. Rak also must wear an alcohol monitoring bracelet until further notice, work or attend college full-time, and undergo a psychiatric evaluation and follow its recommendations.
Prosecutors sought a six-year prison term.
Rak was contrite and remorseful Thursday, it contrast with his pre-sentence evaluation in which he minimized his drinking and said he wanted the court system to leave him "alone."
"You placed yourself in this court," Tegeler sternly told Rak. "You need to seriously quit blaming everybody for everything that's happened to you. You're sober for the first time since high school."
Tegeler said it was difficult to tell which version of Rak was in court before him: A sober, hardworking and responsible man who has reflected on his actions and is working at a lumberyard as presented by Public Defender Kelli Childress, or as Assistant State's Attorney Alex Bederka contended, a selfish delinquent who was arrested three times for DUI, flunked out of college, and was unemployed for years while "leeching" off his father while living in squalor in his home.
Tegeler said he was "absolutely stunned" Rak had not had a violation since being released from jail two months ago and urged Rak to take his treatment seriously.
"There were people betting against you. I was hoping for you," Tegeler said. "You have a tomorrow, you have a chance. You can do it. You can make your father proud."
During the July trial, prosecutors argued an angry Rak punched his father and threw a bottle at him after Jeffrey Rak walked in on his son's girlfriend while she bathed. The punch caused brain bleeding that killed him two days later, authorities argued. Childress contended other factors such as Jeffrey Rak's poor health, alcoholism or a previous fall could have caused his death.