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HEARING MONDAY! Illinois self-defense case looking like “Trayvon Martin / George Zimmerman 2.0”

August 3, 2018

TrayvonvsZimm2

Remember the George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin case from Sanford, Florida? Who could forget? Well, it looks like our own state of Illinois will host a similar legal battle in the coming months. The shooting death of Xavier Hartman in western Illinois has inflamed passions and left residents divided and confused.

During a confrontation in rural Galva, a 59-year-old white farmer named James Love shot the unarmed, mixed-race 19-year-old twice in the leg. One of the rounds ruptured Hartman's femoral artery. Minutes later, the teen died.

Last week, we shared some details of the case, along with a word of warning. In this day and age, prosecutors nationwide seem increasingly inclined to allow political expediency to enter into charging decisions in self-defense cases and let a jury sort it out. Especially when a good guy uses deadly force against an "unarmed" attacker.

In this case, Mr. Hartman's mother, Melissa Hartman, wants justice in her son's death. She's posting sentimental photos on her Facebook page. She's also carefully moderating comments, as is her right. Frankly, Ms. Hartman has crafted a very sympathetic case in her quest for the farmer's prosecution.

Meanwhile, the farmer claims self-defense. The farmer, James Love, pictured below, has retained the Johnson Law Group, a well-respected law firm to represent him. 

On Monday afternoon at the Knox County Courthouse in Galesburg, the defense will make their case in front of Judge Cavanaugh, a former State's Attorney himself.  Cavanaugh is a jurist with a law and order mindset.  At that preliminary hearing, the defense will offer details and information showing support for their claim of self-defense.  No doubt a gaggle of media will attend.

As GSL's President Steve Davis says, "It could prove interesting."  We invite GSL members to attend the hearing at 2pm Monday, August 6th to listen to the facts of the case, and if so moved, to support Mr. Love.

AR-180729857Love

Following one of the earlier court dates, Love's attorney Todd Ringel expressed confidence that the evidence will show the farmer acted in self-defense.  The Galesburg Register-Mail reported it:

Ringel said he is “very confident Jim is going to be exonerated … I think we’re going to try to bring a lot out” at the preliminary hearing.

On the other side, Brian Kerr, the assistant state's attorney, has taken very unusual steps to pursue a murder charge despite a grand jury rejecting a murder indictment. Kerr wants 45 years to natural life for Love.

Some also say Kerr also wants to run for Knox County State's Attorney when his boss retires at the end of this term.

At the same time, the case has local media enjoying increased circulation and viewership. The Peoria Journal-Star served up the latest, describing how the Hartman's death has split the community.

Galva is a town divided in wake of fatal shooting

“You have to understand something right off the bat,” Sherry’s cook for the last six years said. “This town is pretty divided over what happened.

“And I don’t think a lot of people want to talk about what happened. First, they don’t want to been seen as taking sides in this. Second, there are so many rumors around now that people don’t know what to think.

“I’ve heard so many stories, I just hope all us can know exactly what happened that night. I think that might help a lot of people.”

…The court proceedings have only added to the confusion, according to a number of Galva residents.On July 17, a Knox County grand jury declined to hand up an indictment of Love for first-degree murder, instead settling on charges of reckless homicide, aggravated battery causing great bodily harm and aggravated discharge of a firearm.

In a rare move, the Knox County State’s Attorney’s office has again filed a first-degree murder charge against the defendant.

The murder charge, if Love is convicted, carries a mandatory prison sentence of 45 years to natural life in the Illinois Department of Corrections.

Much of this case mirrors the George Zimmerman prosecution from Seminole County, Florida. No doubt stand-your-ground considerations will come into play from people who don't know Illinois law. Hopefully Spike Lee will stay off of Twitter and Jay-Z won't grace us with his presence or make another Rest in Power: The Trayvon Martin Story feature series.

And the media's treatment of the two cases also shows remarkable similarities right out of the gate.

The top photo comes from ABC News, the bottom from the Peoria Journal-Star.

zimmar

lovehart

The defense's law firm has told me, "This will be a monumental case."

It surely seems that way. Stay tuned to Guns Save Life (and The Truth About Guns) for more as the case develops.

11 Responses to HEARING MONDAY! Illinois self-defense case looking like “Trayvon Martin / George Zimmerman 2.0”

  1. John on August 3, 2018 at 11:37 am

    No matter how many cute pictures mama posts, it doesn't negate the fact that her son was a criminal.  If this isn't a self defense case, Mr Love wouldn't have been severely beaten.

  2. Rick O’Shea on August 3, 2018 at 1:18 pm

    Did Ms. Hartman purposely omit the fact that he was on his way home from choir practice?

  3. Sam Whittemore on August 3, 2018 at 1:57 pm

    Not my neck of the woods or my catfight.  But if Mr. Love was truly justified, then I think it shows GSL walks the walk in its "We defend your right to defend yourself" mission slogan.  I just cannot think of a lot of scenarios that would justify shooting an unarmed man.  Unless the kid tried to disarm the farmer.  

    Given how there was a confrontation, that might mean they struggled over the gun.  That might explain two gunshots to the leg of the kid.  

    We will know more Monday.

  4. GSL 1589 on August 3, 2018 at 3:15 pm

    Why was the kid on the farmer's property to begin with, are they neighbors?

    • Smart Cookie on August 3, 2018 at 3:50 pm

      Car accident that the farmer went to investigate. 

  5. Rick O’Shea on August 3, 2018 at 6:37 pm

    I’m anxiously waiting to hear what the toxicology report reveals.

  6. Linda on August 3, 2018 at 9:32 pm

    If Mama wants to blame someone then she needs to accept some responsibility. This kid was surrounded by people with " mob mentality" which became evident in the hateful, posts on Jim Love's support page. 

    When a 59 year old man is being beaten by a physically fit 19 year old – what was Jim supposed to do?   

    It will all come out @ trial.

  7. James on August 4, 2018 at 12:52 am

    Yea I can say that a good friend of his told me he wasn't even driving. The kid that ran and was drunk was behind the wheel. The Hartman name around galva isn't the best name in town. They were guys that grew up in the town and knew those roads well. Just because out was a curve in the road that I'm sure they knew well but missed the and ended up in the ditch. Other things caused the wreck and I'm sure that's why he went after Love when he said the cops where in route. They were celebrating the death of a friend of theirs. Make a me sure they were drinking.

    • GSL 1589 on August 8, 2018 at 11:43 am

      Your statement is confusing, "celebrating" the "death of a friend of theirs" by getting drunk driving in the country. Their actions reveal breakdowns in society by those offspring of "mommy-raised" male children without spiritual and moral guidence, or is their "guidence" influenced by absentee sperm-donordaddies inprisoned or criminally inclined?

  8. Morning Rush on August 4, 2018 at 1:57 pm

    I think it worth noting that the Hartman family is not on trial.

     

  9. Hop on August 6, 2018 at 12:59 am

    I wonder if Massad Ayoob has any interest in this one.