News - McHenry County

Man who shot at woman’s parked vehicle in Woodstock gets 5 years in prison: ‘18 months ago, I made a bad decision’

With credit for time served, working in county jail kitchen Jerry Guzman could serve less than a year

A 35-year-old Chicago man was sentenced Thursday to five years in prison for shooting at the vehicle of a woman he knows parked outside her Woodstock home in 2021.

But, with credit for time served and working in the kitchen while in the county jail he likely will serve less than a year.

On July 26, Guzman entered into a blind plea of guilty on an amended indictment to violating an order of protection, a Class A misdemeanor, and being a felon possessing/using a firearm, a Class 3 felony, according to court documents in the McHenry County courthouse.

In exchange for his guilty plea, charges of criminal damage to property between $500 and $10,000 and reckless discharge of a firearm, each a Class 4 felony were dismissed, according to court documents.

McHenry County Judge James Cowlin sentenced Guzman fo five years in prison for the felony charge and 364 days in the county jail for the misdemeanor violation of the order of protection. Each sentence runs concurrently. The felony is required to be served at 50%. With credit for time served in the county jail while awaiting trial — and the judge finding he is eligible for an additional 161 days of credit for working in the jail’s kitchen — pursuant to a law passed in 2020 that took effect in July of 2021, he could be released from prison in less than a year.

He also is sentenced to a year of mandatory supervised release and must pay $1,938.13. Cowlin waved additional fees.

At the sentencing hearing, Guzman stood and read from a prepared statement. He said he comes from a good family, was sorry, and he takes “full responsibility for (his) actions.”

“Eighteen months ago I made a bad decision, one I’m not proud of,” Guzman said adding he had never been a violent person but had “made some mistakes along the way.”

He said the experience has made him a better man, father, brother, uncle and son. He said he regrets time missed with his children and wants to now move forward and “guide (his) kids down the right path ... be their compass,” he said.

“God works in mysterious ways,” Guzman said.

Woodstock police initially arrested Guzman in March of 2021 after they say he fired a gun at the woman’s car while she had an active order of protection against him. One of the bullets ricocheted and entered the woman’s home while she and her children were inside, court records show.

Cowlin said his official finding was that Guzman committed the offenses as the result of use or abuse of drugs and alcohol and would recommend he get treatment in prison. He told Guzman he posed a serious threat to himself and others that day, and is “fortunate” no one was injured or killed, including himself.

“You wouldn’t be here today,” Cowlin said.

In asking for a 10-year prison sentence, Assistant State’s Attorney Brian Miller said the victim is aware of the sentencing hearing though she was not present and is fearful. Miller said Guzman “got high” that day, left his home in Chicago and went to the woman’s home and “banged on her door,” violating an order of protection. When she did not answer the door, he walked to the driveway and “fired four rounds at her car.”

One bullet ricochet and hit the brick exterior of the home.

“He could have killed someone that day,” Miller said. “(The victim) lives in fear of what will happen when he is released and starts using cocaine again.”

Miller said Guzman has past convictions including a 2004 conviction for attempted armed robbery and a 2011 charge for being in possession of a stolen vehicle.

Guzman’s defense attorney Daniel Hoffman said he has a problem with drugs and alcohol but is willing to be a productive member of society. He acknowledged that this is a “shocking event.” What Guzman did was “an intoxicating rant” but the shots were fired at a vehicle and no one was hurt.

On May 13, 2021, McHenry County Judge Robert Wilbrandt, who has since retired, reduced Guzman’s bond from $200,000 to $100,000.

As a condition of that bond, Guzman was ordered to wear a GPS monitoring device and was barred from having contact with the woman and her home. It also was a violation of his bond to consume illegal drugs, marijuana or alcohol. However, after posting the required $10,000 bail (10% of the %100,000 bond) on May 21, he tested positive for cocaine and alcohol, with a 0.133 blood-alcohol content just weeks later.

His bond was then increased to the original $200,000 and he was taken back into custody where he remained until his sentencing hearing Thursday, according to the county jail website.