A teenage girl who hurled a rock through a car window after its occupants repeatedly drove by yelling threats and homosexual slurs was found not guilty of a criminal damage to property charge Tuesday by a McHenry County judge who ruled she acted in self-defense.
After a three-hour trial, Judge Charles Weech said Kimberlynn Bolanos, 17, could have responded better when confronted by the car's teenage occupants on a McHenry street July 8, but under the circumstances her actions were legally justified.
"I believe she believed she was in danger of being hit by a car and her feeling was that (the harassment) wasn't going to end," Weech said while issuing his verdict.
"Was there another way to handle it? You bet," the judge added. "Two wrongs don't make a right, and you made a wrong move by throwing the rock."
Bolanos, of Chicago, hugged her father after hearing the verdict, later saying that she should not have thrown the rock but believed the judge's decision was the right one. She would have faced a maximum sentence of a year in jail or $2,500 fine if found guilty.
She testified Tuesday that she and a 15-year-old male friend were walking down Green Street in McHenry July 8 when a Toyota Camry occupied by three male teens drove past. Two of the teens, one of them using a megaphone, began yelling gay slurs at the boy and, according to Bolanos, said they were going to harm him.
Bolanos and the boy, Colin McCall, testified that the teens circled around at least two more times, continuing to verbally harass them and swerve as if they were going to run them over. After the third pass, Bolanos testified, she picked up a rock, threw it at the car and missed. She said she then retrieved the rock and threw it again, this time shattering the rear driver's side window.
"I felt like they were going to come around again and maybe try to run me over," she said. "I felt like I had to do something. I was scared."
The boys, including 16-year-old driver Andrew Koivisto of McHenry, admitted yelling at Bolanos and McCall, but denied threatening them, steering the vehicle toward them or driving past them more than once.
"We were just trying to be mean," he said. "We didn't want to scare them."
Weech afterward openly wondered why any of the teens in the car did not face hate crime charges for their part in the incident.
"The elements of a hate crime are there," said the judge. "But I'm not here to decide that. They were not charged with that offense."
Koivisto was charged with an ordinance violation version of disorderly conduct, but the charge was dismissed in September.