An Illinois football player who struck an intoxicated man in a campus bar last spring has been found innocent of aggravated battery.
A Champaign County jury deliberated about an hour Wednesday before acquitting Mike Garrity, 20, whose last known address was in the 500 block of South Third Street, Champaign.
Garrity had been accused of causing great bodily harm to Tom Miller, 20, by striking him in the face in Kam’s, 618 E. Daniel St., C, in the early morning hours of May 15.
Testimony at the jury trial that began Monday before Judge Harry Clem was that Miller, whose blood alcohol level was determined to be 0.27 percent, was annoying several patrons of the bar and that Garrity, a sophomore, hit him in the face with the heel of his hand.
Assistant State’s Attorney Lindsey Clark described the move as a “hand shiver” commonly used by offensive linemen and said the single blow broke Miller’s nose and knocked him to the floor unconscious.
Miller was hospitalized for six days at Carle Foundation Hospital. He also suffered a skull fracture and still has problems hearing in his right ear.
Miller testified he had no memory of the blow and very little memory about even being at Kam’s. The recent Parkland College graduate had been drinking at two other campus bars before going to Kam’s, testimony showed.
Witnesses said Miller had exchanged words with at least two other male patrons before Garrity hit him.
Clark argued that it was an unprovoked blow while Garrity’s attorney, Steve Beckett, argued that Garrity thought Miller was going to hit him.
Clark argued that Garrity, who is about 6-6 inches tall and weighs 320 pounds, was not justified in the force he used against the much smaller Miller, who weighs 150 and is around 6 feet tall.
Clark said it was not reasonable for Garrity to believe that Miller was going to inflict great bodily harm on him.
Beckett said the law says that a person may defend himself from the imminent use of force.
“He shouldn’t, because of his size, have to wait to be hit,” Beckett argued, adding that Miller had been involved in a “continuum of aggression” that started with the other two men and continued with Garrity.
“The loser of the bar fight got injured,” said Beckett, adding that Garrity was not the aggressor and that he had done “absolutely the right thing” by coming to the aid of his friend.