Alsip man receives probation in racial attack with noose
BY ART GOLAB Staff Reporter February 27, 2013 12:55PM
Matthew Herrmann / photo from Chicago police.
Updated: February 27, 2013 6:53PM
An Alsip man who helped put a noose around an African-American teen was sentenced to two years probation Wednesday and will have to write a paper on the history of lynching of African-Americans in the United States as part of his punishment.
Matthew Herrmann, 19, must also read his paper at a “peace circle,” a process where offenders meet victims and community members in an effort to resolve issues between them, according to the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office.
Herrmann, who was 18 when he took part in the 2011 attack with two younger accomplices, was at first charged with committing a hate crime, unlawful restraint and battery — all felonies.
But under a deal with prosecutors, he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor battery. The sentence was imposed by Cook County Circuit Court Judge James B. Linn
With two other white teens, then aged 16 and 17 -- Herrmann attacked 17-year-old Joshua Merritt inside the Beverly home of a state’s attorney’s office employee.
Officials said the group was unhappy that Merritt was friends with the 16-year-old’s female cousin.
Merritt told police the group twice put a noose around his neck, threatened him with a knife, used the n-word and refused to let him leave the house. He was eventually able to escape.
Merritt had gone to the home of the 16-year-old because he had a relationship with “one of the offenders’ family members,” authorities said. The father of the 16-year-old worked in an administrative role for the state’s attorney’s office.
Merritt said he was invited to hang out with Herrmann and his friends at the house.
Merritt said he had been friends with Herrmann since his freshman year at Brother Rice. Herrmann was sophomore, but they were both in clubs and had a “trust with each other.”
Merritt said he knew the 17-year-old attended Brother Rice, but he didn’t know him. The 16-year-old was a Morgan Park High School student.
The 17-year-old pleaded guilty to battery in juvenile court earlier this month. He also got two years probation and must participate in the peace circle. The 16-year-old is expected to plead guilty next week. The Illinois Attorney General’s office is prosecuting his case because his father worked for the state’s attorney’s office.