Branden Napolitan struggled through an apology Friday as he addressed the family of the man he reportedly stabbed and strangled years earlier at an apartment the men shared.
McHenry County Judge Sharon Prather sentenced Napolitan, 29, to serve 28 years in prison for the 2015 murder of Daryl Fox. He must serve the sentence in its entirety.
In the orange McHenry County Jail-issued scrubs he’s donned for more than two years, Napolitan wiped his face as he offered an apology to Fox’s friends and family.
“He wasn’t just your friend.” Napolitan said through tears. “He was my friend, too.”
Napolitan was convicted in March of stabbing, strangling and striking Fox, then taking the man’s car and driving to Madison, Wisconsin, where he briefly stayed until being extradited to McHenry County on Dec. 3, 2015.
Court documents allege that Napolitan admitted to investigators that he stabbed Fox in the back. The two had been living together for some time after Fox offered to share his apartment when Napolitan “had nowhere else to go,” Fox’s family testified Friday.
“He opened his heart to somebody. He let them in and this is what happened,” Daryl’s brother, Dan Fox, testified in court.
Napolitan had entered an insanity plea on the first-degree murder and possession of a stolen vehicle charges that stemmed from the incident. Prather, however, ruled at trial that Napolitan was guilty but mentally ill, meaning that despite his paranoid schizophrenic diagnosis, he will serve his sentence in prison, rather than a mental health facility.
“At the time of the crime Mr. Napolitan was drinking heavily, he was using drugs and he was not taking his medication,” Prather said in court Friday.
McHenry County Assistant Public Defender Angelo Mourelatos already has begun Napolitan’s appeal.
“We filed our appeal today, and I maintain that Branden was insane at the time of the offense,” Mourelatos said, declining to comment further on sentence.
At a bench trial in March, Mourelatos argued that Napolitan believed he was acting in self-defense, and following the advice of voices in his head that told him to kill Fox in their Woodstock apartment that night.
Fox’s family speculates about the exact date of Fox’s death. An indictment of the charges filed in McHenry County suggests the crime could have occurred between Oct. 21 and 25, 2015. Officials found Fox’s body Oct. 25.
Authorities have said Napolitan called 911 two days earlier and reported feeling suicidal and homicidal. Paramedics and police escorted Napolitan to the hospital, which eventually released him.
Although he reportedly told doctors he hadn’t used drugs, authorities later found cocaine in his system, prosecutors said.
Aside from Mourelatos’ argument that Napolitan believed Fox was dangerous at the time, it remains unclear why the man would otherwise kill his roommate, prosecutor Randi Freese said.
“To this day, nobody in this courtroom, except the defendant, knows why or how this happened,” Freese said in court.
Even Napolitan struggled to pin down an explanation while apologizing to Fox’s family during the sentencing.
“I can’t even tell you why this happened,” Napolitan said, adding that he wants to “change his life around.”
Two of Napolitan’s sisters submitted letters to the judge that were not read aloud in court. Neither of the women wished to comment after Napolitan’s sentencing.