WOODSTOCK – After about three hours of deliberations, a jury acquitted a Lakemoor man on Wednesday of breaking into his on-and-off girlfriend's home and punching her repeatedly in the head.
Robert L. Hilt, 36, had been facing between six and 30 years in prison for home invasion. He also was charged with two counts of domestic battery.
Hilt and the alleged victim have known each other since they were 11, dated for about four years, and have a child together.
The woman had taken out an emergency order of protection against Hilt that expired in early September 2011. A final order was entered, but Hilt did not know about it, said his attorney, Brian K. Stevens.
The alleged victim, whose mother lived with her and was dying from cancer, testified Tuesday that she asked Hilt to come back into the home to help with the couple’s daughter.
He took off for about 36 hours, they had a disagreement and Hilt left again, she said, only to return later that day. She said he then broke into her home by knocking out a glass window pane to open a door, forced his way in, and began beating her in the back of the head.
A deputy testified that he responded to the scene and found Hilt laying on the road with blood on his face. Hilt was eventually taken to the hospital and told police that several of the woman's relatives had beat him up that night.
During closing arguments, Stevens pointed out that the woman had invited Hilt back into the home.
"She can't just turn it on and off like a light switch," Stevens said. "If she's saying come back, he has authority. She can't just switch it like that and now call this a home invasion."
Prosecutors, however, said that the final order of protection had been signed by a judge – it wasn't up to the woman.
Stevens also pointed to a voicemail the alleged victim left for the McHenry County State's Attorney's Office saying she would testify that her statement to police was a lie. She wrote a letter recanting, as well.
When she took the stand, however, she said that Hilt coerced her into doing that by saying that their daughter had just lost her grandma and it would be bad if her father went away, too.
Prosecutors also pointed to photographs taken of the woman by police the night of the incident, which showed red marks on one of her cheeks.
They said that was consistent with her face being smashed into the floor while being punched in the back of the head.
Stevens, however, questioned why there were no photos of the back of her head.
"If that really happened, wouldn't those photographs be much more disturbing?" Steven said. "Those photographs really show nothing."
Outside of court after the verdict was read, Hilt said he hadn't been worried. He said the entire incident was a coverup for the beating by his ex's family members.
Hilt still has another, misdemeanor case pending against him on a charge that he violated the terms of his bond. Since December, he wore an ankle device with GPS tracking, which will now be removed.
Hilt said he looks forward to getting back to work as a machinist.