No charges against wife in Homer man's death
URBANA — Champaign County State's Attorney Julia Rietz said she does not intend to file any criminal charges against a Homer woman who fatally shot her husband Monday night.
"At this time I do not plan on filing criminal charges against Amanda Berkman," Rietz said.
About 10:15 p.m. Monday, Champaign County sheriff's deputies were called to the home of Amanda and Shawn Berkman in the 600 block of West Fourth Street.
Amanda Berkman, 30, had called for help after shooting her husband, 26, in a struggle over a gun, Rietz said.
"Based on the preliminary information that we have from the evidence at the scene, evidence obtained at the autopsy, the interviews with Amanda Berkman by the sheriff's office and others familiar with the family, as well as background information that we have about Mr. Berkman and his history of post-traumatic stress disorder, it appears that there was a violent domestic situation and that the preliminary information supports a determination that Amanda Berkman appropriately defended herself," Rietz said.
Rietz said Mrs. Berkman told the deputies that on Monday night, her husband had not only threatened to shoot her with the gun but also threatened to take his own life. He had made similar threats on other occasions, Rietz said.
"There appeared to be a struggle between the two over the gun that ended in him being shot," Rietz said, adding that Amanda Berkman had red marks around her neck consistent with her assertion that her husband tried to choke her.
In February 2010, he was charged with aggravated domestic battery for grabbing her around the neck and applying pressure. He ultimately pleaded guilty to misdemeanor battery for a sentence of conditional discharge.
Court records filed in that case indicated that Mr. Berkman, a decorated Army veteran who served in Iraq, was struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder and having trouble adjusting to life as a civilian. He was honorably discharged from the service in 2009, the records stated.
An autopsy done Wednesday confirmed that Mr. Berkman died of a single gunshot wound to the chest.
The couple's three girls, ages, 2, 6 and 7, apparently slept through the struggle. Rietz said professionals with the Children's Advocacy Center plan to interview them and offer counseling. The children remain with their mother, Rietz said.