Judge to decide Polo man’s fate in 2020 shooting death

In closing, attorney for Cody W. Neuschwanger argues for self defense

Cody Neuschwanger (right) speaks with his attorney Michael Johnson prior to closing arguments at his bench trial in Ogle County Court on Thursday, May 11, 2023. He is accused of killing Devin Bailey outside a Rochelle home on Oct. 29, 2020.

OREGON – An Ogle County Judge will decide today if a Polo man was acting in self defense when he shot and killed an Oregon man in 2020 following a domestic altercation at a Rochelle residence.

Cody W. Neuschwanger, 26, is charged with the death of 37-year-old Devin Bailey, who was found wounded about 9:15 p.m. Oct. 29, 2020, outside a home at 1122 block of First Avenue in Rochelle.

Bailey was transported to Rochelle Community Hospital, where he was pronounced dead from one gunshot wound to his torso.

Ogle County Judge John “Ben Roe” listened to closing arguments on Thursday morning following a full day of testimony on Wednesday. He said he expected to render his verdict later in the afternoon.

Ogle County State’s Attorney Mike Rock and Assistant State’s Attorney Matthew Leisten argued Neuschwanger shot and killed Bailey with a single shot to his chest.

Defense attorney Michael Johnson argued Neuschwanger was trying to help a friend retrieve his mother from an abusive relationship with Bailey and that the shooting was made in self defense after Bailey charged at his client with a weapon which Neuschwanger believed to be a knife or a machete.

Johnson said Neuschwanger’s actions were made in self defense and argued Bailey had a “violent and aggressive character.” Johnson said evidence of Bailey’s past arrests in 2018 and 2019 included battery, disorderly conduct, aggravated domestic battery, and resisting a police officer.

Attorneys agreed the shooting came after Neuschwanger and two other 17-year-olds from Polo argued and fought with Bailey following a domestic incident in the home involving one of the teen’s mothers.

On Thursday, Leisten said Neuschwanger was guilty of murder.

“He took the law into his own hands. He shot and killed Devin Bailey,” Leisten said. “Nothing was in Devin Bailey’s hand when Cody Neuschwanger shot him. Our evidence shows he did not have lawful justification to use deadly force.”

Johnson disagreed. “Cody had no choice. Devin gave him no choice,” argued Johnson. “Devin made a choice and based on that choice he gave Cody no other option. Cody did what he needed to do. He went out to help friends and we need more friends like Cody. A life has been lost and it is not for us to weigh how good of a life it was.”

Johnson said Neuschwanger – who had a license for conceal carry – called 911 immediately and asked for two ambulances.

“If he wanted this man to die he would have emptied his gun or not call 911 or jumped in his car and left,” Johnson argued. “It was dark out. He thought he had a knife. That call was within seconds of him firing the shot. He didn’t have time to make up things.”

Johnson said Bailey’s past criminal arrests should be considered because it helped show what his client was “dealing with.”

“Holding Cody for criminal conduct would be wrong,” argued Johnson. “I have been honored to represent this man.”

Rock argued Neuschwanger had many “off ramps” to take before the shooting occurred.

“This was a very sad situation and a lot of ‘what ifs,’” argued Rock. “He was an IDOC officer. He knows how to de-escalate. We know what his attitude was when the first thing he says on the 911 call is ‘I’m a concealed carry license holder.’ This is about believing you have certain rights because you have a CCL. Devin Bailey’s behavior was horrible, but when everyone is out of the house there as another off ramp and he [Neuschwanger] had the opportunity to call 011 and stop the situation.

“When he told the ER nurse that he ‘dropped him like a sack of potatoes’ he was almost bragging about it,” argued Rock. “Devin Bailey may have been a bad person but he didn’t deserve to be shot that night. The court should find the defendant guilty.”

Earleen Hinton

Earleen Hinton

Earleen creates content and oversees production of 8 community weeklies. She has worked for Shaw Newspapers since 1985.