As injuries from Fort Sheridan fight detailed, murder suspect's attorney suggests self-defense
The lawyer for one of the two Highland Park men accused of second-degree murder in the death of a man at Fort Sheridan Forest Preserve in September said Friday his client was attacked first and he will likely argue self-defense.
Jacob Firestone, 19, and Nicholas Caban, 20, were arrested Thursday on the charges in the death of Matthew Ascaridis, 45, also of Highland Park. Officials have said the three men had a fight on the beach after the older man confronted them for being too loud sometime after midnight Sept. 17.
Firestone appeared at a bond hearing with his attorney, Jed Stone, on Friday. Bail was set at $2 million.
Caban's bond hearing is set for next week.
At the hearing, prosecutors presented evidence about the injuries suffered by all three men. Prosecutors said Ascaridis was found in Lake Michigan several feet from shore at 5:12 a.m. Sept. 17. They said a medical examiner determined the muscles at the base of his skull were shredded, his neck had been broken and he likely had lost the ability to move.
Ascaridis' body showed signs of drowning, including watery fluid in his stomach and sand and other debris in his airway, according to prosecutors.
Caban had cuts on his neck and head that required stitches, and Firestone needed surgery to treat an epidural hematoma, a collection of blood inside the skull, prosecutors said.
Caban and Firestone told investigators that they fought with Ascaridis, punching, kicking and throwing rocks at him, according to prosecutors. The pair said they'd stopped once Ascaridis passed out and that they left him on the beach, prosecutors said.
Stone said the head injuries suffered by Caban and Firestone could have happened only if Ascaridis struck the young men first.
Stone argued his client's bail should be low enough so Firestone can continue having follow-up appointments with the brain surgeon who saved his life. Stone said Firestone suffered brain damage and continues to experience memory loss, dizziness and other symptoms.
Judge Theodore S. Potkonjak disagreed and kept Firestone's bail at $2 million, the amount requested by prosecutors. Firestone must post $200,000 to be released pending trial.