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‘Heartless thug’ from 2006 Beverly case facing federal gun charge

Micha Eatman | Cook County Sheriff's mugshot

A man who went to prison a decade ago for the brutal beating of a 14-year-old heart patient in Beverly Park is facing a new federal gun charge.

A Cook County judge sentenced Micha Eatman in 2007 to seven years in prison for the July 2006 beating of Ryan Rusch, who’d had three heart valve-replacement surgeries and weighed just 100 pounds. Eatman and two others punched and kicked Rusch’s head — putting him in a coma — before making off with his cell phone.

Rusch’s mother referred to her son’s attackers as “three heartless thugs.”

A decade later, a federal grand jury has accused Eatman, 28, of illegally possessing a loaded Taurus Millennium 9mm blue steel semiautomatic pistol last August. The indictment against him was filed Tuesday, and records show Eatman is in state custody. No arraignment had been scheduled as of Wednesday morning.

The federal charge carries a maximum 10-year prison sentence.

Eatman was given the harshest available sentence for his aggravated battery conviction in the Rusch case. Before the sentence was handed down, Eatman apologized to his victim. Eatman and two other boys had jumped Rusch on a hot summer Sunday afternoon as he was walking alone through the park on his way home from his nearby cousin’s house.

Nearly a year after the attack, Rusch still had memory problems and had lost peripheral vision in one eye.

“I’m terribly sorry for what happened to Ryan Rusch … I never wanted to hurt him,” Eatman said. “Ryan Rusch: I’m sorry, and I hope your medical problems get better.”

Despite the seven-year sentence, Eatman bounced in and out of prison between 2007 and 2011, picking up an additional aggravated battery conviction in March 2010, according to the Illinois Department of Corrections. His most recent prison stay ended in December 2011, according to IDOC.

There were initial calls to have hate-crime charges leveled in the Rusch case because all three assailants were black and Rusch was white. One of Rusch’s attackers told police they picked their victim because he was “a goofy-looking white boy.”

But prosecutors eventually filed attempted murder charges against Eatman and the two other defendants, who were charged in juvenile court.

A judge ultimately acquitted Eatman of the attempted murder charge, ruling there wasn’t enough evidence he tried to kill Rusch.