September 11, 2006
JOLIET – Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow announced that a jury has found a man from unincorporated Beecher guilty of shooting his father to death outside their home 4-1/2 years ago.
The jury deliberated for 11-1/2 hours starting Friday afternoon before convicting Charles Hardig, 40, on one count of first-degree murder for gunning down his father, Richard Hardig, 64, on Jan. 21, 2002 outside their home in rural Will County. The murder trial lasted for 15 days.
Hardig faces possible life in prison when he is sentenced by Circuit Judge Richard Schoenstedt on Nov. 17.
Sheriff’s police who responded to a report of a shooting found Richard Hardig curled in a fetal position next to a stoop outside a door to his home. The victim had been shot four times; three bullets were recovered from his body during an autopsy.
Charles Hardig, who was taken into custody after he emerged from a nearby field, admitted to police that night that he shot his father, according to testimony by the arresting officers. But Hardig declined to say why he killed his father or what type of gun he used in the shooting.
However, ballistics tests conducted on a .357-caliber revolver recovered by police from the defendant’s dresser drawer matched the three bullets retrieved from Richard Hardig’s body. Additional tests revealed that the defendant had gunpowder residue on his hands.
“Charles Hardig has refused to say why he shot his father down in cold blood, and we may never know the reason,” Glasgow said. “But we know for certain that he is the killer and that he will be sent to prison for this brutal murder.”
The defendant’s mother, Grace Hardig, initially told police she was playing the organ inside her home when she heard gunshots on the evening her husband was killed. A short time later, Charles Hardig entered the house carrying a long gun, she told police. She told detectives her son also appeared to be carrying a handgun in the pocket of his pants.
But when it came time to testify, a distraught Grace Hardig took the witness stand with a different story. She suggested there was another unidentified man at the scene. Prosecutors described her second version of events as an attempt to shift blame for the shooting to protect her son.
Hardig also testified in his own defense. He said he found his father on the ground and saw his brother’s van speeding from the scene. He also alluded to the possibility that an unidentified intruder shot his father.
Glasgow commended Assistant State’s Attorneys Sarah Jones, Dede Osterberger and Nicole Moore for helping jurors reach the truth during a long and hard-fought trial with a difficult witness who changed her story.
“They remained focused on the facts and presented their evidence clearly,” the state’s attorney said. “As a result, Charles Hardig will be held accountable for his actions.”
Glasgow also praised Sheriff’s Detectives Michael Guilfoyle and Scott Swearengen for their solid investigative work and for testimony that enabled his prosecutors to prove their case.
Charles B. Pelkie
(815) 530-7110 (cellular)
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