Crime & Courts

Judge acquits 2 men charged in connection with 2017 fight, stabbing in Crystal Lake

A trial Friday afternoon lasted about five minutes before a judge announced not guilty verdicts for two men charged in connection with an attempted robbery that landed one defendant in the hospital with a knife in his face.

Prosecutors were left empty-handed Friday when two alleged victims whom the state planned to call as witnesses did not show up.

“I think it says they may have something to hide,” defense attorney Caryn Barone said.

It is unclear whether the alleged victims could face consequences for skipping out on the trial.

Attorneys for 19-year-olds Tyler Novak and Thomas Madura showed the judge photos of the injuries their clients suffered during a fight that broke out in April 2017 in the 400 block of Berkshire Drive, Crystal Lake.

Defense attorney Matthew Haiduk asked for a direct finding of not guilty on the basis that the state failed to prove its case. McHenry County Judge Sharon Prather granted the request.

Nine people – six adult men and three juveniles – initially were charged in connection with an attempted robbery staged to look like a drug deal.

The group was accused of using baseball bats to steal 4 ounces of marijuana worth $800 from two people in an apartment complex parking lot, court records show. Things took a turn, however, when one of the alleged victims used a knife to stab Novak in the face and make a deep cut down Madura’s arm.

One of the photos that Haiduk submitted as evidence showed Novak lying in a hospital bed with a knife handle sticking out of his face.

“Those thugs should have been charged with attempted murder,” Haiduk said.

The victims were not charged because they were determined to have been acting in self-defense, said McHenry County Assistant State’s Attorney John Gibbons, who is chief of the Criminal Division.

Dylan Macari, Devon Manning, Brandon Rosas and Geoffrey Miller initially were charged in connection with the fight. The juveniles’ names were not released.

Rosas, who prosecutors previously identified as the group’s ringleader, pleaded guilty in June to aggravated battery in a public place and was sentenced to two years of probation. Macari similarly accepted a plea deal in August and was sentenced to one year of court supervision for misdemeanor battery.

Charges against Manning and Miller have since been dismissed.

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