Hawk Found Insane in Near-Fatal Beating Case
Family’s worst nightmare: Man found insane in mother’s near-fatal beating
By: Tom Collins
LaSalle News Tribune – 2/21/14
Ottawa – An Ottawa man who nearly beat his mother to death last year was found not guilty by reason of insanity Thursday.
Nathan Hawk, 19, of 115 Watson Ave. could have faced up to 30 years in prison had he been convicted of armed violence for the head injuries he inflicted to Nancy Hawk on March 15, 2013, in their home.
However, prosecutors did not dispute a psychiatric evaluation diagnosing Hawk with a bipolar disorder and showing he was insane at the time of the beating.
Assistant LaSalle County state’s attorney Matt Kidder and Hawk’s lawyers stipulated to each and every fact of the case in a hearing that lasted less than 15 minutes. Chief Judge H. Chris Ryan Jr. then pronounced the verdict without comment.
Hawk now is headed for the Illinois Department of Human Services, where he will undergo treatment and be held in a secure facility for an indefinite period – potentially for years.
“It was a terrible situation,” said Peoria defense lawyer Jim LeFante. “It’s a family’s worst nightmare.”
LeFante applauded Kidder and Ryan for doing “the right thing” and not disputing Hawk’s clinical diagnosis.
Hawk did not speak during the hearing except to answer yes-or-no to Ryan’s questions. In keeping with jail regulations, Hawk did not look at or address his parents or many supporters seated in the spectator gallery.
LeFante said Hawk has separate felony charges in Peoria County but he anticipated a similar outcome Monday when Hawk appears for proceedings there.
Nancy Hawk said after Thursday’s hearing she feels “great” and is about three-quarters recovered from the injuries, which placed her in a coma for 37 days and required extensive therapy.
Nevertheless, Nancy Hawk acknowledged she nearly died from the injuries sustained when her son broke wooden rifle stocks beating her head. Nathan Hawk had openly admitted beating his mother when arrested by Ottawa police officers, two of whom he bit during apprehension.
“It’s the most unbelievable, hideous situation you can think of. It’s surreal,” Nathan’s father Bill Hawk said when approached for comment. He added later that his son showed “great remorse,” and, “Putting him in prison for 20 years wouldn’t help me and wouldn’t help my wife.”
Bill Hawk said Nathan had no previous history of mental health issues, was a varsity basketball player and honors student in high school and had made the dean’s list in his first semester at Bradley University, where he was studying for a medical career.
“My office is not just about seeking convictions,” said Brian Towne, La Salle County state’s attorney, “it is about seeking the truth and justice in every situation.”
“In this case, the opinions of the experts and the facts of the case suggest the appropriate verdict was rendered by the court.