Crime & Courts

Woodstock man acquitted of attempted murder, found guilty of aggravated battery

‘My client made a lot of stupid decisions...’ one of the Woodstock man’s attorneys said. ’He didn’t go there to kill anybody.’

A McHenry County judge on Wednesday found a 38-year-old man not guilty of attempted murder in connection with what prosecutors called an “ambush” last summer at a Woodstock gas station.

Although the victim’s injuries were serious, prosecutors failed to prove that Ricardo J. Carreno Jr. intended to kill the man whom he hit over the head with a bat and stabbed twice with a pocket knife, McHenry County Judge Michael Coppedge ruled. The judge did, however, find Ricardo Carreno Jr. guilty of multiple counts of aggravated battery and a single count of violating an order of protection.

Carreno Jr. testified Wednesday about the June 14, 2020, altercation that sent him and the other man to the hospital with injuries.

According to Carreno Jr., he was only trying to intimidate his ex-wife’s new boyfriend when he ran at the man with an aluminum baseball bat.

“My intent was just to catch him as he walked out and intimidate him,” Carreno Jr. said Wednesday.

The attack at 315 N. Madison St., Woodstock, injured Carreno Jr., his ex-wife and the woman’s boyfriend.

If Carreno Jr. had intended to kill the man, however, he likely would have first attacked with the pocket knife rather than the bat, Coppedge ruled.

Although she said she understood the judge’s ruling, the woman said after court Wednesday that she was “disappointed” the attempted murder charge didn’t stick.

“It’s still disappointing that something bad has to happen or someone’s life taken to get a fair verdict,” said the woman, who had an active order of protection against Carreno Jr. at the time of the attack.

McHenry County Assistant State’s Attorney Robert Schuman and Carreno Jr.’s attorneys – McHenry County Assistant Public Defenders Richard Behof and Angelo Mourelatos – called the verdict fair.

“My client made a lot of stupid decisions ...” Behof said during his closing argument. “He didn’t go there to kill anybody.”

According to Carreno Jr., he happened to notice the man’s car parked outside an acquaintance’s house shortly before midnight and used his phone to take a picture of the license plate. Later, on his way to the Historic Woodstock Square, Carreno Jr. spotted the car again, this time turning into the Shell gas station. Hoping to intimidate his ex-wife’s boyfriend, Carreno Jr. grabbed a baseball bat that he found among some nearby trees and approached the man. He denied slashing the tires or following the couple to the gas station.

Prosecutors with the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office, however, argued that Carreno Jr.’s plan was more calculated than the per-chance encounter he described on the stand Wednesday.

“This defendant was lying in wait at that location,” Schuman said in court.

Prosecutors alleged in their closing arguments that Carreno Jr. slashed two of the other man’s tires at another location and then followed him to the gas station. When the man got out of his new SUV to examine his tires, he noticed air leaking from the sidewalls and a masked man running toward him with a baseball bat, the alleged victim testified.

He then ran toward the bat-wielding man, later identified as Carreno Jr., and wrestled him to the ground. During the altercation, Carreno Jr. struck the man on the top of his head with the baseball bat and stabbed him twice in the arm.

Carreno’s ex-wife, who up until that point had been in the alleged victim’s car with her 9-, 12-, and 6-year-old children, pulled a pocket knife out of Carreno Jr.’s hand, cutting her own in the process.

As of Wednesday, the woman’s children and the man were OK, but continue to heal from the stress of the situation, she said.

“A wound can heal, but trauma doesn’t die,” the woman said. “That’s with you for life.”

Behof argued Wednesday that Carreno Jr. only stabbed the man because the alleged victim was “choking” him and banging his head on the ground.

“He’s getting pummeled,” Behof said. “He’s getting his lunch handed to him.”

Although Carreno Jr. could be heard yelling, “I can’t breathe,” on surveillance video that was played in court Tuesday, Schuman claimed the man had “a lot of oxygen in his lungs” because he was able to shout.

Coppedge agreed, noting during his ruling that Carreno Jr. didn’t appear to be in distress or struggling to breathe in the audio recording.

“The argument that this was somehow defensive is rejected,” Coppedge said.

A sentencing hearing is scheduled to take place at 1:30 p.m. July 21.