AURORA, Ill. -- A college student home on spring break beat his mother to death with a baseball bat in the middle of the night, thinking she was an intruder and believing he was acting in self-defense, Kane County prosecutors said.
Those same prosecutors, though, filed second-degree murder charges this week against the 21-year-old University of Wisconsin-Madison student.
Thomas J. Summerwill surrendered to authorities Monday after the state's attorney's office filed criminal charges for the death of his mother, Mary B. Summerwill.
"The allegations are that he was essentially startled awake, believing there was an intruder in his room," defense attorney Liam Dixon said about the incident that occurred in the early morning hours of March 24 in the family's Campton Hills home.
Acting in what he believed was self-defense, Thomas Summerwill struck his mother multiple times in the head with a bat not realizing it was his mother, Kane County state's attorney's officials said in a news release. However, prosecutors allege that Summerwill's belief was not reasonable because he was under the influence of alcohol, officials said.
"If they allege alcohol played a role, I don't know that that changes his reasoning," Dixon said.
Thomas Summerwill's father was at the family home on Willowbrook Lane and he and his son called 911 that morning, Dixon said. Summerwill hit his mother with a souvenir baseball bat that was mounted above his bed, he said.
Dixon said Summerwill has the full support of his family members and the incident was a "horrible accident."
"It was a freak accident and a tragic, horrible story all the way around," Dixon said.
Summerwill was home for spring break after returning from a trip to Ireland and parts of Europe. Dixon said his client could have had jet lag.
Asked about why his office charged Summerwill with second-degree murder, McMahon said that is what the evidence supports.
"The facts of the case will come out in court and we'll present our case, but he's charged with second-degree murder," McMahon said. "We believe that is the appropriate charge."
Mary Summerwill, 53, died a short time after the incident at Northwestern Medicine Delnor Hospital in Geneva. She died of cranial injuries that were consistent with being struck by a baseball bat, Coroner Rob Russell said.
Thomas Summerwill just finished his junior year of college and is a graduate of St. Charles North High School. Dixon said he has no prior criminal history.
Dixon said he is not sure why Mary Summerwill went into the bedroom that night.
"They had an excellent relationship," Dixon said. "I wouldn't even call it a typical relationship, I would say it's very loving. She adored him."
Thomas Summerwill posted $30,000 bond Tuesday and is due in court again May 23.
If convicted, the charge holds a punishment ranging from probation to up to 20 years in prison.
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