WOODSTOCK – Scott Peters sat motionless looking forward as a judge read his verdict in front of a packed courtroom.
"We the jury, find Scott Peters guilty," Judge Sharon Prather read aloud to each of Peters' 15 charges, including seven for attempted murder of a police officer.
Peters fired more than a dozen rounds at McHenry County Sheriff's Deputies Dwight Maness, Khalia Satkiewicz and Eric Luna who responded to his Holiday Hills home on Oct. 16, 2014, for a well-being check.
As the deputies retreated, Peters fired more rounds from his AR-15, eventually shooting Maness in the back and leg, and Satkiewicz in the leg and chest, though her vest stopped that bullet.
"It was very hard, all the emotion that I felt that night," Deputy Satkiewicz said after the verdict was read – her voice trembling as she held back tears. "It comes back to you."
Outside the courtroom, McHenry County Sheriff's deputies lined the hallway and clapped as Maness – flanked by his wife and stepdaughter – was wheeled out of the courtroom. Deputies Satkiewicz and Luna walked alongside with their families.
The three took a moment together before speaking to the media. They hugged one another, smiled and wiped their eyes.
Maness spent 20 years with the U.S. Army and saw combat in Iraq in 1990-91. After nine surgeries, he's still using a wheelchair and has a large metal apparatus drilled into the outside of his leg.
Maness stood shakily on one leg every time the judge or jury entered the courtroom. Peters has complained of leg and hip pain, but was banned from using a wheelchair at the trial after testimony from medical experts who said he didn't need one. He remained seated when the judge or jury walked in.
"I'm the real Airborne Ranger right here," Maness said. "I have the determination, I will put in the hard work. I will walk again."
"I want to show him that he didn't win," Maness said.
McHenry County Sheriff Bill Prim issued a written statement after the verdict.
"It is in times like these that we should reflect that peace and order in our community doesn’t come without its price," the statement reads. "Deputies Maness and Satkiewicz, and their families, will for the rest of their lives be paying that price. In our county, in our state, and in our nation we are very fortunate to have police officers and other first responders who go to work knowing that they may face something similar. And they do it every day. That is why I am so proud of these dedicated men and women."
According to trial testimony, Deputies Maness and Satkiewicz approached Peters' front door about 1:16 a.m. that night. Luna went around the back.
The deputies knocked and identified themselves as police, and Peters told them to go away, testimony revealed. This went back and forth for some time, before Peters eventually changed his tune, and in a menacing tone, said, "come on in," Satkiewicz said.
"We felt like we were walking into an ambush," Maness said from the witness stand.
That's when Peters yelled "Airborne!" and began firing.
According to Luna's testimony, he heard gunshots, ran to the front and returned fire with Peters.
Luna said Peters fired as he yelled, "I'm a U.S. Army Paratrooper, I hope you're ready to die today because I am."
Holding up the AR-15 Peters used to fire at deputies, Assistant State's Attorney Michael Combs said Peters, "indiscriminately took this instrument of death and started blasting through the door."
Peters fled the area after the shooting and eluded police for 16 hours, igniting an area-wide manhunt that brought an estimated 250 law enforcement officers to McHenry County.
In closing arguments Combs played portions of Peters' interview with police. Combs directed the jury to focus on statements in which Peters used derogatory expletives for police officers and said some were "criminals."
"That man in the wheelchair right there is not a criminal," Combs said, pointing to Maness who was seated in the front row. "… Neither is that woman sitting there, or that brave deputy over there."
His defense attorneys also zeroed in on the police video, where Peters emphatically denies knowing it was deputies at his front door.
Assistant Public Defender Angelo Mourelatos said Peters did not know a 911 call was placed – it was placed by a friend of the family in Michigan. It was completely dark when they arrived, Mourelatos said, and it wasn't until Peters ran outside and saw the squad cars, did he realize it was police officers he had shot. Peters thought someone was trying to break into his house.
"There is no evidence to support that Mr. Peters knew the Sheriff's Office was coming to his door," Mourelatos said. "… He believes something completely different."
But the jury – who took two hours to deliberate – didn't believe that defense, one juror told the Northwest Herald.
"He went out and continued to follow [the deputies]," said juror Randall Wesley of McHenry. "Who does that? We never thought he was in a defensive position. We never thought that at all."
Jurors were split on whether or not to find Peters guilty on the attempted murder charge regarding shots fired at Luna, Wesley said.
His defense pointed out that there were no bullet holes on the vehicles in the driveway that Luna said he was standing behind and returning fire.
"We knew he was guilty for Maness and Satkiewicz. That was a slam dunk," Wesley said. "But we weren't sure about Luna."
Ultimately, it was the deputies' testimony that erased any doubt, Wesley said.
The trial this week was dramatic from the start. Peters on Wednesday morning came before McHenry County Judge Sharon Prather holding his stomach and asking to see a doctor. Prather questioned medical personnel at the jail who said there was no medical reason for Peters' behavior. She ultimately determined he was faking, and the trial continued without him.
Peters also tried to get his attorneys off of his case, saying they weren't adequately representing him. Peters faces a life in prison. He will be sentenced on June 25.