No charges against wife in Homer man's death

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.


Comments for this post are read only.

barber.2008 wrote on February 08, 2012 at 8:02 pm


This is the statement that we gave to the media tonight, as a joined family: Berkman and Borrett together. We wanted to make sure that they do not twist what was said or take anything out of context. The transcript is as follows:  "On behalf of the family of Shawn and Amanda Berkman, we request that we be allowed to mourn privately. Shawn Berkman is a man who not only loved his wife and children but also loved his country. Shawn served fifteen months in Iraq as an infantryman protecting his country and then came home to Homer as a volunteer firefighter serving his community. After returning from war, Shawn was diagnosed with severe Post Traumatic Stress syndrome due to combat service. PTS greatly affected all aspects of his life as it does to everyone who is afflicted by it. His family asks that all willing persons please pray for Shawn, his family, and every other individual that suffers from PTS whether that be from war or any other traumatic event. If you know of someone whose life may be altered from PTS please encourage them to seek assistance.  Again, we ask you to please allow the family to mourn in peace and private.  We respectfully decline to answer all questions. Thank you" --dictated by Amanda and written by those who love her and Shawn