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Lawsuit filed over Crest Hill ‘party-game punch’ death

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Updated: October 29, 2012 6:57AM



A Romeoville mother has filed a lawsuit over the death of her son, a 25-year-old rapper killed when he accepted a $5 bet and took a punch in the face from a 21-year-old woman two years ago.

Theresa Guy sued Tiffany Startz, Jimmy Mounts and Kevin D. Renahan last week in Will County Circuit Court. Startz, now 23, was found not guilty at trial of the reckless conduct and battery charges she faced for throwing the punch that ended John Powell’s life.

Powell was asked to perform at a September 2010 party at Renahan’s house in the 2500 block of Waterford Drive in Crest Hill, according to Guy’s lawsuit. When Powell’s performance ended people gathered in the garage.

That’s where Mounts, now 28, promised $5 to anyone willing to take a hit from Startz. Powell accepted.

A video of the punch was shown at Startz’s trial. Powell could be seen holding his arms behind his back and leaning toward Startz, taking the hit on the left side of his face. What’s not shown in the video is what prosecutors said happened moments later — Powell collapsed to the ground.

An ambulance was called and Powell was taken to Provena Saint Joseph Medical Center in Joliet, where he was pronounced dead.

Will County Judge Edward Burmila found Startz not guilty, though. He said she acted negligently when she hit Powell, but he said negligence doesn’t equal recklessness. He rejected arguments from prosecutors that the fact Powell consented to the punch is not a defense to battery in Illinois.

After the trial, Startz’s mother said “nobody wins here.” Her father, Tim Startz, offered condolences to Powell’s family for the “horrible, tragic incident that we feel horrible about.”

Guy refused to accept Startz’s acquittal and said the Joliet woman “got away with murder.” Her lawsuit accuses Startz and Mounts of knowing Startz “possessed more skill and power in striking individuals” than a woman her age and size normally would, and it said they knew the blow could cause someone’s death.

On Thursday, Startz’s attorney, Edward F. Masters, called Powell’s death “a tragic situation.”

“But Tiffany Startz didn’t do anything wrong.”

Mounts avoided trial by pleading guilty to a misdemeanor count of attempted obstruction of justice. He is serving a two-year sentence of conditional discharge. Renahan didn’t face criminal charges, records show.



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