Crime & Courts

After new trial, Woodstock man who claimed self-defense against officer is convicted of lesser charge

A Woodstock man who claimed a McHenry County sheriff’s deputy choked him during a 2015 traffic stop was found guilty Wednesday of resisting a police officer.

David Magnuson, 50, went to trial for the second time Wednesday on charges stemming from the more than five-year-old traffic stop.

Magnuson previously was convicted in June 2016, of fleeing and aggravated battery to a police officer. Based on an error in jury instruction regarding the man’s self-defense claim, the Illinois Second District Appellate Court reversed Magnuson’s conviction of aggravated battery to a police officer and sent the case back to McHenry County for a retrial.

After a brief stipulated bench trial on Wednesday, McHenry County Judge Robert Wilbrandt found Magnuson guilty of resisting a police officer. The offense is a misdemeanor charge that carries a lighter penalty than the felony aggravated battery charge Magnuson was previously convicted of.

Wilbrandt subsequently sentenced Magnuson to one year of conditional discharge and ordered the man to attend a victim-impact panel, records show.

The original charges against Magnuson date back to April 10, 2015. That day, a McHenry County sheriff’s deputy stopped Magnuson for allegedly speeding 31 mph over the speed limit, according to court records.

The situation escalated when backup officers arrived and Magnuson refused to exit his vehicle, according to court records. When Magnuson repeatedly refused to exit his vehicle, one of the responding sheriff’s deputies reached inside the car to take the keys from the ignition. Another sheriff’s deputy tried to restrain Magnuson at the same time.

That’s when police allege Magnuson struck one of the officers and drove off before crashing into a culvert. Magnuson denied hitting the officer and claimed self-defense, in that he only tried to pull away from an officer’s arm that he claimed was pressed against his neck.

A passenger in Magnuson’s car caught part of the interaction on a cellphone video, which was played at the original trial and again in court Wednesday.

Jurors initially acquitted Magnuson of speeding but found him guilty of aggravated battery to a police officer, fleeing and transportation of alcohol.

He was sentenced to two years of probation and 90 days in jail. He additionally was required to attend counseling and write an apology letter to the officers.

On appeal, Magnuson alleged, in part, that although jurors were allowed to consider whether he was acting in self-defense, they weren’t informed that prosecutors had to prove Magnuson’s actions were unjustified.

Attorneys are expected to meet again on Dec. 16 to discuss a 2018 request from prosecutors who were seeking to revoke Magnuson’s original sentence.

At the time, the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s office claimed Magnuson failed to meet all the requirements of his original sentence. It’s unclear is whether that request remains relevant in light of Magnuson’s new sentence.

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