HOLIDAY HILLS – Appellate judges have affirmed the conviction of a 55-year-old Holiday Hills man serving life in prison for the 2014 shooting of two McHenry County deputies, one of whom later died.
Second District Appellate Judge Mary Seminara-Schostok issued the decision Tuesday, confirming that Scott Peters received a fair trial and his rights were not violated when eight witnesses testified in his absence.
In April 2015, a jury found Peters guilty on each of the 15 charges filed against him. He now is serving a 135-year prison sentence at Menard Correctional Center for attempted murder and aggravated discharge of a firearm stemming from the 2014 shooting that injured Deputies Dwight Maness and Khalia Satkiewicz.
“It’s going to be painful for the rest of our lives,” Maness’ wife, Sue Maness, said Wednesday. “He took something extremely special from us. As long as I know [Peters] is where he belongs, we continue to heal.”
On appeal, Peters argued that it was not proved that he was guilty of trying to kill one of the sheriff’s deputies at his home that day.
Peters’ appellate defender, Sherry Silvern, argued in January that Peters’ constitutional rights were violated when stomach pains prompted him to leave the courtroom while witnesses continued to take the stand in his absence during the second day of his 2015 trial. The appeal also claimed that prosecutors made inappropriate statements when they called Peters a “lying liar” and compared him with John Wayne during closing arguments.
On the morning of Oct. 16, 2014, McHenry County Sheriff’s Deputies Dwight Maness, Satkiewicz and Eric Luna went to Peters’ Holiday Hills home to do a well-being check on Peters’ wife. When officers first arrived and announced themselves, Peters refused to speak with them, but he eventually invited them inside.
“[Dwight] Maness was concerned that he was walking into an ambush, so he again told Peters that he needed to come outside,” Seminara-Schostok wrote. “In response, Peters said, ‘We’re going to do this, let’s do this. Airborne.’ ”
Peters fired more than a dozen shots, shooting Maness in the back and leg and Satkiewicz in the leg and chest, although her vest stopped that bullet.
Peters’ appeal alleged that prosecutors did not prove that he intended to kill Luna, but the appellate judges disagreed, noting that the shooter’s words and actions were enough to suggest that he meant to kill all three officers.
“Although all of the defendant’s shots missed Deputy Luna, poor marksmanship is not a defense to attempted murder,” Seminara-Schostok wrote.
Dwight Maness and Satkiewicz did not fire any shots at Peters, while Luna shot at him eight times, according to the order.
Peters also argued that his rights were violated when McHenry County Judge Sharon Prather had him removed from the courtroom on the second day of his trial after he loudly complained about needing to see a doctor.
A jail nurse examined Peters and found no medical problems other than a hernia, which he had for some time. The nurse testified that Peters was sore after trying to force himself to vomit before court, according to the order.
“Here, it was the defendant’s actions alone – not his attorney’s – that caused him to be absent from his trial,” Seminara-Schostok wrote.
Appellate judges agreed that two of prosecutor Michael Combs’ comments during closing statements were improper, but they said the comments weren’t enough to sway the jurors’ decision.
“In view of the entire record and the overwhelming evidence of [Peters’] guilt, we cannot say that the two improper comments either constituted a material factor in [Peters’] convictions or otherwise deprived him of a fair trial,” Seminara-Schostok wrote.
With years of military training under his belt, Dwight Maness testified to having known something was strange the morning of the shooting.
“He was exceptionally well-trained, and his sixth sense was always on,” Sue Maness said. “He knew something was not right when they were standing on the porch at Scott Peters’ house.”
If Peters was granted a new trial, Sue Maness would have pursued murder charges for her husband’s death, she said.
“I didn’t want to have to drag my family through another trial,” she said. “It was horrible for the first time. To go through all of that again would just be too much.”