Bartlett man guilty in battery of grocery bagger with special needs
A Bartlett man has been found guilty of one count of aggravated battery for kicking a grocery store bagger who has special needs.
DuPage County Judge Brian Telander found Bruce Mirabella, 51, guilty of one of three counts of aggravated battery -- for kicking the bagger -- after the one-day trial and revoked his bail. He found him not guilty of punching the bagger, because Telander said the employee was walking quickly toward Marabella. The kick, however, came as the bagger was walking away.
"If these counts charged him with being a jerk, there's no doubt he's guilty," Telander said.
The charges stemmed from a July 22, 2019, case at the Jewel-Osco at 125 Stearns Road in Bartlett.
Mirabella's attorney, Tom Breen, called Mirabella's actions a "tap punch" and said his client merely pushed the bagger away with his foot.
"I really think, Judge, it is a sad situation that may be a misapprehension by (the victim)," Breen said.
In testimony Wednesday, the store's cashier, Spencer Gordon, said Mirabella was purchasing a bottle of alcohol around 9:30 p.m. when he asked Gordon how old he was. Gordon told him he was 23.
The 27-year-old bagger then asked Mirabella how old he was, and Mirabella replied "old enough to kick your (butt)," Gordon said.
After the attack, Gordon testified he told the victim to clean himself in a restroom. He said he told Mirabella the bagger had just been kidding. "How was I supposed to know?" Mirabella replied, according to Gordon.
The bagger also testified. He said he has Asperger's syndrome, a form of autism. After graduating from high school, he attended a special-education program to teach independent-living skills, but he still lives with his parents and does not drive.
He said he thought he was joking with Mirabella.
"I was just going to give him a pat on the back and say, 'Well, you have a good day,'" the bagger testified.
Mirabella is a former wrestler, has coached wrestling and has competed in at least one ultimate fighting-style match.
After being hit, the bagger returned to the end of the counter and slammed his hands on it, "because the way he punched me really hurt."
Assistant State's Attorney Bethany Jackson played audio from a Bartlett police car recording of Mirabella's arrest, in which Mirabella repeatedly refers to the victim with vulgar slurs. He also said the bagger "invaded my space."
Mirabella pleaded guilty to reckless homicide for a fatal crash he caused on I-88 in 1993. He has a Cook County conviction for domestic battery to his mother and was sued in Kane County by a teen who claimed he was injured by Mirabella during a wrestling practice.