TUSCOLA — A Villa Grove man who has been jailed nine months was released Thursday night following a mixed set of verdicts in his jury trial for allegedly threatening to shoot his wife and children at the school her son was attending.
The trial of Timothy E. Little, 36, who listed an address on South Henson Road, began Monday in Tuscola and wrapped up Thursday night before Douglas County Judge Michael Carroll.
Little, the operator of a trucking company, had been charged with armed violence, disorderly conduct, domestic battery and stalking.
After about three hours of deliberation, the jury convicted Little of stalking but acquitted him of armed violence, disorderly conduct and domestic battery.
The armed violence and disorderly conduct charges stemmed from threats he allegedly directed at his wife while armed and at students at her son's school. The other two charges alleged he shoved her and placed her in fear of being harmed while she was at a women's shelter.
A charge of making a terrorist threat against the school children was dismissed by State's Attorney Kevin Nolan prior to trial.
Little faces penalties ranging from probation to one to three years in prison.
Little was arrested on Jan. 27 for allegedly threatening his 31-year-old wife during the day.
Sarah Little testified she had been married to Little only six months at the time and wanted out.
That Sunday morning, the couple went to breakfast at a Villa Grove restaurant and got into an argument after she suggested that they put on hold plans to build a home.
The suggestion, she said, prompted Little to accuse her of planning to leave him and return to her ex-husband. She said he called her a "baby killer" and said that she "owed" him a child.
Sarah Little explained that she became pregnant by Little a few weeks after they married and that he became "very controlling" and that the two of them argued frequently. "The marriage was declining," she said.
Sarah Little said she decided to abort the pregnancy in September without telling Little. When she finally shared the news with him in October, "he was very, very angry."
At the restaurant on Jan. 27, "He said I owed him a baby. I said, 'I don't owe you this.' I was trying to neutralize the situation and be calm, and he was getting agitated at everything I said."
After they returned home, the argument continued, she said. She busied herself in the kitchen and could hear him "going all over the house opening all the gun safes."
Little, a collector of guns who owned them legally, then put two long guns and an ammunition clip for them on the kitchen table. She called him "very agitated" as he took the guns from the safe.
"He said he was taking the guns to North Ward, and every baby he killed would be on me," she said, referring to the Tuscola elementary school where her 4-year-old son from her previous marriage was a student. "He was very angry, very serious. I felt very threatened by him."
Sarah Little said she went to their bedroom, and he came in there, opening a portable gun safe and removing a handgun, which she identified in court.
"I asked him what he was doing. He looked at me and said, 'I'm going to kill you today,'" she recounted. "I begged him to put the gun down and talk to me and not say he was going to kill me."
"He wasn't hearing anything I was saying. His stare was very cold. I felt like he was looking through me. He was very hate-filled," she said.
As the two met in the middle of the room, she said, he pointed the gun at her, and she grabbed his wrist and continued begging him to stop. That's when he allegedly used his forearm to shove her in the chest, knocking her backward — the basis of the domestic battery charge.
"I thought he was going to pull the trigger," she said, adding he told her to stop begging. He said, "It was too late. We were both going to die."
As they stood arguing, with her still holding his wrist, he decided to use the bathroom. Sarah Little said she went downstairs and sat on the couch waiting for him. When he reappeared and said he wanted chewing tobacco, she said she would go get it, then left the house and instead drove to Beth's Place, a women's shelter in Tuscola.
Under questioning by Little's attorney, Fred Johnson of Mattoon, Sarah Little said she had a history of moving out on Little when they argued — both before and after their marriage. She admitted that on Jan. 27, he only pushed her and did not otherwise physically harm her. She said Little did not stop her from leaving the house that day.
She said she did not tell him about the abortion right away "because I was scared of him."
Other prosecution witnesses included Little's first two wives, who also talked of his threats to shoot them. The second wife, however, said she didn't recall much of the threatening conduct that she had spelled out in a December 2007 application for an order of protection against Little.
Johnson called only Little to testify in his own defense. Little denied making any of the threats that Sarah Little claimed he had made, including any threats directed at the North Ward school children. He compared his pain at her having aborted their child to that of a parent of a child wounded in a school shooting.
Before trial, Nolan had dismissed a previously filed felony charge of making a terrorist threat for the alleged comment about shooting children at North Ward. The disorderly conduct charge alleged that comment alarmed and disturbed Sarah Little.
The stalking charge of which he was convicted stemmed from Little, later in the day on Jan. 27, driving slowly by the women's shelter where Sarah Little had sought refuge.
Little had been held in the jail in Tuscola without bond since that day. After the verdicts, Carroll set his bond at $7,500. A few hours later, he posted $750 in cash and left the Douglas County Jail.
Little is expected to be sentenced in December. The felony conviction for stalking means he will no longer be able to legally own guns.