Matthew De Leon was “horrified” when he saw video of himself punching a security guard who had tried to shoo him away from a River North apartment building, his attorney said Wednesday.
“I was there personally when he turned himself in” around midnight Monday, attorney Richard Fenbert said Wednesday at a bond hearing at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse. “He expressed deep remorse. He’s going to make this right for the victim and her family.”
The promise didn’t sway Cook County Judge Donald Panarese Jr., who set bail at $250,000 for De Leon, an active-duty soldier from Portage Park who is due to report to an Army base in Hawaii in three weeks.
De Leon, 23, faces one count each of aggravated battery causing great bodily harm, aggravated battery in a public place and aggravated battery of a peace officer. Assistant State’s Attorney Erin Antonietti said the blow broke bones in the guard’s face — though she still cleaned up a pool of De Leon’s vomit outside the building before going to the hospital.
“I considered your request for $150,000 bond,” Panarese said to Fenbert. “I’m also considering the orbital and nasal fracture of the victim.”
The judge’s order drew a gasp from one of the half-dozen members of De Leon’s family in the courtroom gallery.
Reached at the hospital Wednesday, the guard, Zoa Stigler, 46, said she was about to undergo surgery to repair her fractured eye socket, and likely would miss more than a month of work.
Stigler said she has suffered some numbness to her face in addition to pain and swelling. Stigler said she had worked at the building for around five years and never had a violent confrontation, as she prides herself on her helpful, respectful approach to her job.
Stigler said she’d been trying to help the obviously intoxicated De Leon before he hit her. “My job is, and what I feel as a human being is: if you see someone who needs help, you help them,” she said. “He was passed out. I was not going to leave him in trouble like that.
When De Leon clocked her, she said she was talking to one of his friends, and the blow “came out of nowhere.” She continued mopping up as she waited for her daughter to pick her up and drive her to the hospital, after placing a call to her boss.
“You might as well finish what you started. I still had to wait for my daughter to take me to the emergency room,” she said. “It doesn’t take much to pour out some water and sweep up a little.”
Fenbert said that De Leon enlisted in the Army after graduating from Guerin College Prep High School, and had served two tours, including a nine-month stint in Afghanistan. Military officials have been notified of De Leon’s arrest, Fenbert said.
Outside the courtroom, Fenbert said that there might be several ways De Leon could “make it right” for Stigler, including compensating her for her medical expenses.
Prosecutors said a heavily intoxicated De Leon slumped over just outside of the condo building at 630 N. Franklin around 2:15 a.m. Sunday, when Stigler walked up to him and offered to call him an ambulance, or the police.
Stigler went back inside, but returned soon after to find De Leon still outside. She went back inside and called police, then went outside, where she heard De Leon vomiting. Stigler went inside for a mop and bucket, coming outside to find De Leon with his wife, sister in-law and the sister in-law’s boyfriend.
The group began to move away from the building, prosecutors said, but De Leon threw water from a water bottle at Stigler, then punched her. The group walked away without offering Stigler help, but Fenbert said De Leon was horrified when he saw the video of the encounter. Fenbert could not say when De Leon saw the video, which had gone viral after residents of the building started a fund-raising campaign to pay for the Stigler medical expenses.
A GoFundMe page has been set up by Asad Khan, president of the board for the 630 N. Franklin building, for Stigler. Donors had pledged more than $24,000, toward its goal of $30,000 by Wednesday afternoon.
Stigler said she has hired an attorney, and declined to answer when asked what De Leon could do to “make it right” by her.
Despite the pain and swelling from her injuries, Stigler said she was able to enjoy Mother’s Day on Sunday with her two daughters and newborn grandchild.
“My daughters cooked for me, and we had a great Mother’s Day dinner,” Stigler said. “It was more hard for them. They’re going to have to remember this as the Mother’s Day when their mother got punched in the face.”