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Hoffman murder suspect awaits all-or-nothing verdict
By Barbara Vitello | Daily Herald Staff

Joseph Biedermann,

 

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Published: 7/10/2009 9:41 AM | Updated: 7/10/2009 3:54 PM

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The Rolling Meadows jury deliberating the fate of Joseph Biedermann has only two options to consider.

Not guilty, or guilty of first-degree murder.

Biedermann, charged with the 2008 stabbing death of Terrance Hauser, elected not to allow the jury to consider a verdict of second-degree murder, which carries a sentence of four to 20 years upon conviction.

Instead, the 30-year-old Hoffman Estates man opted for an all or nothing approach, asking the eight-woman, four-man jury to either send him home, or send him to prison for 20 to 60 years.

Biedermann claims he killed the 38-year-old Hauser in self-defense after Hauser attacked him in the early morning hours of March 5, 2008, in Hauser's home in the 2200 block of Hassell Road in Hoffman Estates.

Closing arguments echoed the themes prosecutors and defense counsel advanced in their opening statements.

"A picture speaks a thousands words," said Cook County Assistant State's Attorney Mike Clarke quietly, as he showed the jury crime scene photographs. "And the pictures in this case speak volumes."

Clarke called Hauser's death "nothing less than a cold, brutal, senseless, killing" committed by a defendant he says did not tell the truth.

Biedermann claimed that Hauser invited him back to Hauser's apartment several hours after the men met for the first time at a neighborhood bar near where both men lived in the Barrington Lakes Apartment Complex. Both men were intoxicated. Toxicology reports indicated Hauser's blood-alcohol content was .277; Biedermann's was .226.

Biedermann testified that Hauser threatened to sexually assault and kill him and that he stabbed Hauser with Hauser's own medieval-style dagger as the two men struggled.

Clarke refuted Biedermann's claims, saying the room showed no signs of a struggle. No chairs were overturned, two wine glasses remained upright and intact on a coffee table, and two guitars used in a video game remained undisturbed. He also compared Biedermann's minor injuries to Hauser's 61 stab wounds including significant wounds to his jugular vein, lungs, kidney, pancreas and abdomen, any of which could have caused his death.

"He may be presumed innocent, but he's not presumed honest," said Clarke, who also challenged Biedermann's claims that Hauser threatened to rape him.

Defense attorney Sam Adam Jr. delivered a vigorous, physical closing argument refuting prosecutors' claims.

"The State said there was no struggle, the medical examiner testified there was," he said referring to Dr. Ponni Arunkumar's testimony regarding Biedermann's DNA found under Hauser's fingernails.

After the incident, Biedermann ran back to his apartment, leaving his coat, shoes and wallet behind, Adam said. He banged on the door and yelled at his girlfriend Ana Oleszkiewicz to call 911 while he kept repeating: "why did he do that? Why did this happen to me?" Adam said.

"When a man stabs a man 61 times there's a reason," Adam said. But it wasn't robbery; nothing was stolen. It wasn't drugs; toxicology reports indicated neither man tested positive for any drugs other than alcohol, Adam said. It wasn't jealousy; the men didn't know each other.

The reason was self-defense, Adam said. He repeated his client's testimony that while being treated at St. Alexius Medical Center, he told a nurse a man attacked him and tried to rape him. The nurse did not testify.

Adam then posited another scenario where all the facts were the same except for one.

"Change one fact. Change Joey to Josephine and this man never would have been charged," Adam said.

"Send that boy home to his mom," said Adam concluding his closing argument, "because they didn't prove (first-degree murder) beyond a reasonable doubt."

In a fiercely argued rebuttal, Assistant State's Attorney Mike Gerber reminded the jury of the victim.

"Terrance Hauser was a lonely, little guy who lived by himself and wanted companionship," Gerber said.

Gerber also mentioned the defense's reference to a forensic examination of Hauser's laptop that revealed hits on Internet sites containing child pornography but indicated no images were downloaded.

"First he (Biedermann) covered (Hauser's) body in blood then he came in here and covered it with mud," Gerber said.

Jury deliberations continue.