August 19, 2010
Erick Mercado-Hernandez, 29, of Joliet, pleaded guilty in June to one count of aggravated battery and one count of domestic battery. On July 27 and July 28 of 2009, an enraged Mercado-Hernandez repeatedly beat the victim about her entire body with a metal broom handle and a piece of wood trim.
The woman suffered extensive bruising across her body, including her head, back, legs and feet. She would not flee her attacker because she was too injured to escape with her three little children, who ranged in age from 6-months-old to 4-years-old. The children were in the home for the entire time of the abuse.
After experiencing two days of constant beating, the victim and her children were rescued after she secretly dialed 911 and left the phone off the hook while Mercado-Hernandez was in the bathroom.
Aggravated battery is a Class 3 felony that carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison. Circuit Judge Amy Bertani-Tomczak handed down a sentence at the very top of the range after noting the seriousness of the victim’s injuries and the fact that three little children were in the house during the two day beating. The judge also noted that a lesser sentence would diminish the seriousness of the crime.
The case against Mercado-Hernandez was handled by State’s Attorney Glasgow’s specialized Domestic Violence Prosecution Unit and his Victim Independence Program. The team combats domestic violence by joining together specially trained prosecutors, police officers and victim advocates to comprehensively address the safety needs of victims while enforcing offender accountability.
Assistant State’s Attorney Heather Meyers secured a guilty plea and prison sentence in the courtroom while Domestic Violence Victim Advocate Kathy Craven provided the victim with support services and encouragement while the case was pending.
Craven contacted the victim on the day the case was charged and remained in constant contact with her over the past year. The woman noted that had the team not reached out to her immediately and offered its continuous support, which included referrals for domestic violence counseling and the securing of an order of protection against her husband, she would not have followed through with the prosecution. Charges for violating the order of protection are still pending against the defendant.
“Domestic violence cases are the most difficult to prosecute because victims live under constant emotional, financial and physical intimidation while their cases are pending,” Glasgow said. “My Domestic Violence Prosecution Unit deserves tremendous credit for removing this woman from a violently abusive situation and empowering her to turn the tables on her abuser.”
The prosecution team and the Victim Independence Program are funded through a federal grant provided by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women. With the funding, Glasgow has enhanced his Domestic Violence Prosecution Unit by hiring a specialized prosecutor, an investigator and a victim advocate to focus exclusively on domestic violence cases.
Three additional victim advocates were hired through the grant, one each to work with partners at Groundwork and Lamb’s Fold Center for Women and Children, both of which provide services to abused women. The third works in partnership with the Will County Courts under the direction of Chief Judge Gerald Kinney.
Charles B. Pelkie
(815) 530-7110 (cellular)
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